HELSINKI -- When the Anaheim Ducks scored goals against Jokerit in Tuesday's preseason game at Hartwall Areena, fans of the local club cheered.
Sure, they rooted for their team when the game was close, and there was an audible sigh when Ryan Getzlaf scored in overtime, but early in the game, when Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne where setting up Corey Perry for goals, the game might as well have been in Honda Center. If that was the atmosphere when the Ducks were facing Jokerit, it is fair to say the Buffalo Sabres are going to be facing a partisan crowd Friday in the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere (1 p.m. ET, TSN2).
"Yeah, that part is going to be interesting," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "I have so much respect for Teemu. There's not many players who could do what he's done and play at the level he is playing at right now at that age. He'll always be known as a tremendous goal scorer. … If I were a fan in Finland, I'd be here cheering for him, too. I think that part is tremendous."
The Sabres arrived in Helsinki Wednesday afternoon after a long travel day from Germany, but like the Ducks did Sunday, they went straight from the airport to the rink for practice. Buffalo defeated Adler Mannheim Tuesday in its final preseason game, and now the focus has shifted to Friday's opener.
While the Ducks have been here all week and the players have had the chance to see the city and explore the culture, the Sabres only will be here for a little more than 48 hours before the puck drops Friday.
"I think in terms of travel and playing, we're all used to that," Buffalo forward Nathan Gerbe said. "We always play, travel, play, travel. ... I think we just try to take the same way. We want to gear up. The preseason is over and training camp is over. Now it is the real thing."
Friday's game may feel a little like a trip to TD Garden or Bell Centre for the Sabres, though they'll likely have a bit of a home-ice advantage Saturday in Berlin against the Los Angeles Kings (2 p.m. ET, TSN2).
"That's pretty cool," Gerbe said when told the Helsinki fans were cheering Ducks' goals. "It was a lot of fun playing in Germany (on Tuesday). It was a great crowd, great atmosphere and they gave a warm welcome to our German players (Christian Ehrhoff, Jochen Hecht). We know it is going to be pretty rowdy here, so we just have to take it as it is and get ready to play."