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Sabres at Coyotes preview

Buffalo seeks first win in three games; Raanta starts for Arizona

by Alan Robinson / Independent Correspondent

SABRES (29-27-8) at COYOTES (31-27-8)



The Game

Antti Raanta will be back in goal for the Arizona Coyotes when they play the Buffalo Sabres at Gila River Arena on Saturday.

Darcy Kuemper returned after being out two months with a groin injury to make 23 saves in a 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. He reported no problems but coach Rick Tocchet plans to play both goalies down the stretch.

Buffalo is playing the second of a back-to-back after losing to the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2 on Friday. The Sabres have lost two straight after going 5-1-0 in their previous six and are 10 points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

The Coyotes are 1-3-0 in their past four games. They are two points behind the Nashville Predators for the second wild card from the Western Conference, and four points behind the Edmonton Oilers for third place in the Pacific Division.

The Sabres are 7-2-1 in their past 10 games against the Coyotes.


Players to watch

Sabres forward Jack Eichel has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his past 10 games and 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in nine games against Arizona.

Coyotes forward Brad Richardson has a goal in each of his past two games and has four shorthanded goals the past two seasons.


They said it

"We've got another challenge now and we've got to be up to the task. We have to pick up points. Obviously we know how big every game is here, so we have to move forward and focus." -- Sabres forward Jeff Skinner

"The whole year, every game is big. But when you get down to the stretch run, you've got to take advantage of these points, especially at home. We should be well-rested and should bring a lot of energy." -- Coyotes forward Nick Schmaltz


Sabres projected lineup

Victor Olofsson -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart

Jimmy Vesey -- Marcus Johansson -- Dominik Kahun

Jeff Skinner -- Curtis Lazar -- Wayne Simmonds

Zemgus Girgensons -- Johan Larsson -- Kyle Okposo

Brandon Montour -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe -- Henri Jokiharju

Rasmus Dahlin -- Colin Miller

Jonas Johansson

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Lawrence Pilut, Michael Frolik

Injured: Linus Ullmark (lower body), Tage Thompson (upper body), Vladimir Sobotka (lower body)


Coyotes projected lineup

Taylor Hall -- Christian Dvorak -- Nick Schmaltz

Lawson Crouse -- Derek Stepan -- Clayton Keller

Conor Garland -- Barrett Hayton -- Phil Kessel

Carl Soderberg -- Brad Richardson -- Vinnie Hinostroza

Oliver Ekman-Larsson -- Ilya Lyubushkin 

Jordan Oesterle -- Niklas Hjalmarsson

Alex Goligoski -- Jason Demers

Antti Raanta 

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Christian Fischer, Michael Grabner, Aaron Ness

Injured: Jakob Chychrun (lower body)


Status report

Demers, out since Feb. 1 with a lower-body injury, will be a game time decision but is expected to play.


Stat pack

Simmonds needs two points for 500 in the NHL. … Tocchet needs one win for 100 as Coyotes coach. … The Coyotes are 8-2-3 in their past 13 home games.

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