By Kyle Shohara
It’ll be an extended lunch break for those on the West Coast gearing up for this afternoon’s Ducks game in Buffalo. Because of Columbus Day, puck drop for today’s game is at noon PT. It’s not the first matchup on the four-game slate today, as the Colorado Avalanche and Boston Bruins got started at 10 a.m. PT.
The Ducks will partake in four more afternoon games this season. They will also play day games on November 15 at Los Angeles (1 p.m. PST), November 28 vs. Chicago (1 p.m. PST), December 7 at Winnipeg (12 p.m. PST) and March 28 at the New York Islanders (10 a.m. PDT). Anaheim won its lone day game of the season in 2013-14, defeating the Calgary Flames, 5-2, on Nov. 29, 2013 at Honda Center. Today's contest also begins the club's first of 12 sets of back-to-back games in 2014-15 (they close out the road trip tomorrow at Philadelphia). The Ducks went 20-5-3 in back-to-back games last season, including 9-4-1 in the first contest.
This marks Anaheim’s third game of their season-opening four-game road trip that began with a 6-4 loss at Pittsburgh, followed by a 3-2 victory in Detroit on Saturday. Leading the way for the Ducks through the first two games are the big three: Ryan Getzlaf (2g/2a), Corey Perry (3g/1a) and Ryan Kesler (1g/3a).
The Ducks swept the two-game series last season with the Sabres. Getzlaf had four goals and seven points in the two games, including his first career hat trick in the Ducks' 6-2 win November 8 at Honda Center. Thirteen players had points for Anaheim in a 6-3 victory in Buffalo on November 2, the Ducks' first win at First Niagara Center since 2009. Emerson Etem notched his first career multi-goal game and earned a career-best +3 rating in the win at Buffalo.
Because of the early start time, the Ducks did not hold a morning skate, so today’s starting netminder will remain a mystery until pregame warmups.
The Ducks are 10-14-4 all-time vs. the Sabres, including a 4-6-4 mark in Buffalo. Getzlaf has recorded 11 points (5g/6a) in nine career games vs. Buffalo, tops among current Anaheim players. The season series will conclude next week at Honda Center on Wednesday, October 22 (7:30 p.m. PDT).
Yesterday, head coach Bruce Boudreau said forward Dany Heatley resumed skating back in Anaheim. Heatley suffered a groin injury in a preseason game vs. Los Angeles on September 28. Boudreau says he’s optimistic for Heatley returning to the lineup for Anaheim’s October 26 contest at Honda Center against the San Jose Sharks.
Kyle Palmieri (ankle) is still not skating, according to Boudreau. Palmieri was practicing with the team during the final week of the preseason, but did not appear in a preseason game. Defenseman Bryan Allen (lower body) is with the team on their four-game road trip, but remains out of the lineup.