By Kyle Shohara
Anaheim’s three-game homestand continues tonight with a matchup against a familiar opponent, the Buffalo Sabres.
The Ducks earned a 6-3 victory over the Sabres in the series opener on November 2 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo. Corey Perry scored twice, Ryan Getzlaf had three points (1g/2a) and Emerson Etem recorded his first career multi-goal game.
But now the scene shifts out west where the Sabres (3-14-1) conclude a three-game California road trip. Buffalo’s first two games were against the Sharks (5-4 shootout victory) and Kings (2-0 loss).
Despite Buffalo’s record, the Ducks know how dangerous the Sabres can be.
“They’re a team that, if you’re not ready to play, they’re going to come back and bite you,” said Perry. “We know how well they play. They played well on this road trip, and you’ve got to be ready from the start and go from there.”
“We’ve all been a part of teams that have struggled,” said linemate Dustin Penner. “It’s not easy, especially last night being shutout. We want to have a good start tonight and not give them any confidence by letting them score the first goal.”
“It’s always beneficial once you’ve played a team and you can see some of their tendencies,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “But there are still an awful lot of unknown names in the Buffalo lineup that we really don’t know too much about. They might’ve had a bad game against us or not. Plus, they have Ryan Miller in net tonight. The last time he was in here, he stopped 40-plus shots and they won 2-0.”
HOME SWEET HOME
The Ducks enter tonight’s game on an active six-game home winning streak, which marks the most consecutive home wins to start a season in franchise history. Anaheim has outscored the opposition 26-10 (excluding one shootout goal) at Honda Center during the streak. Standing in the way is a Sabres squad that has three wins on the season, all coming on the road.
“Any time you’re in the top of the league and you think you’re something, it comes back to bite you,” said Boudreau. “Watching the San Jose game against Buffalo, and the L.A. game, you take away the power-play goals last night, and they’re right there. They’re feeling pretty good about themselves. The team scares me because I think they’re on the way up, trending upward, and we had a day off yesterday and just finished a big divisional game against Phoenix.”
The Ducks credit their fans for giving them an added boost, and will look to draw from their energy again tonight.
“They’ve showed up each and every game here, and that helps us out a lot,” said Emerson Etem. “They’ve been loud and it’s been helping our confidence. It’s always fun playing here. You’re happy to come to the rink. It’s a great atmosphere.”
“We like playing in front of our fans,” said Perry. “This is a building we don’t want to lose in all year. If you win your fair share of home games, you’re going to be all right.”
EXPECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
Dustin Penner – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Devante Smith-Pelly – Mathieu Perreault – Teemu Selanne
Emerson Etem – Nick Bonino – Kyle Palmieri
Andrew Cogliano - Rickard Rakell – Daniel Winnik
Frederik Andersen is expected to start in net tonight. The 24-year-old rookie is 4-0-0 with a 1.36 goals-against average and .952 save percentage in his first four career NHL contests. Andersen is one of only two Ducks goaltenders to win their first four NHL games (also Viktor Fasth in 2012-13). In addition, he’s only the third active NHL goaltender to win his first four appearances, joining Fasth last season and Kari Lehtonen for Atlanta in March-April, 2004.
Andersen leads NHL rookie netminders in wins, GAA, SV% and appearances this season (min. 2 games).
NOTE: Tonight will mark Teemu Selanne's 1,400th career NHL game.
The Ducks are 9-14-4 all-time vs. the Sabres, including a 5-8-0 mark at Honda Center. Selanne leads active Ducks skaters in career scoring against the Sabres, earning 28 points (7g/21a) in 26 games.