BUFFALO –After a forgettable few days in Florida, the Vancouver Canucks (23-17-4) shuffle into Buffalo looking to get back on track when they face the Sabres (19-18-7) this afternoon at KeyBank Center.
The Canucks return to action following a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers in Sunrise on Thursday. Brock Boeser and Tyler Motte scored the Vancouver goals while Thatcher Demko faced a career-high 49 shots and made a career-best 44 saves. It was Demko’s first loss since November 27th.
With the early 1pm local start time there will be no morning skate today. As a result, it will be much closer to game time until any line-up decisions are revealed.
The Canucks have been outscored 14-4 and outshot 86-55 in the first two games of their five game road trip. Since December 1st, no team in the league has surrendered more shots than the Canucks (35.5/game).
The games against the Lightning and Panthers mark the first time this season the Canucks have allowed five or more goals in consecutive games. At the same time, those games made it three straight contests in which the Canucks have managed to score just two goals.
On Thursday, the Canucks went 0 for 3 on the power play. The team is 0 for its last 10 opportunities over the past three games. It’s just the second time this season the club has gone three straight games without converting with the man-advantage. Since December 1st, Jake Virtanen leads the Canucks with three power play goals.
The team is 2-6 in its last eight road games giving up 38 goals over that span (4.75/game). That includes a 9-2 loss in Tampa, an 8-6 defeat in Pittsburgh, a 6-3 setback in Vegas and Thursday’s 5-2 loss in Florida.
The Sabres are coming off a 5-1 loss in St. Louis on Thursday. Captain Jack Eichel had Buffalo’s lone goal netting his 27th goal of the season. He sits tied with Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon for third in the league in goals. He has scored at least 24 goals in each of his five seasons in the NHL and his next goal will match his career-high of 28 set last season. Eichel carries a five-game point streak into action this afternoon recording 3+2=5 during that span.
The Sabres managed just 19 shots on goal in St. Louis on Tuesday and with the loss, Buffalo dropped to 3-7-1 in its last 11 outings.
While the Sabres are well below the playoff bar in the Eastern Conference, they have a stellar home ice record going 13-5-3 in 21 games at Key Bank Center. Jack Eichel has 19+15=34 in 21 home games so far this season.
Injuries have taken a toll on the hockey club which is without two of its top six scorers. Victor Olofsson, who leads all NHL rookies, with 16+19=35 is out for another month with a lower body injury while veteran Jeff Skinner, who has 11+8=19, is out with an upper body injury.
Newcomer Michael Frolik is expected to make his Sabres home debut today. He was acquired from Calgary on January 2nd and logged 16:44 in his first game with Buffalo on Thursday in St. Louis.
Buffalo is 31st and last in the NHL in face-off percentage winning just 45.3% of its draws.
The Canucks defeated the Sabres 6-5 in overtime when the teams met on December 7th in Vancouver. Antoine Roussel and Josh Leivo each scored twice and JT Miller pulled the trigger on the power play in OT with a one-timer from the right face-off circle.
POSSIBLE CANUCKS LINE-UP
POSSIBLE SABRES LINE-UP