Skip to main content
game preview

Preview: Sabres at Canucks

Vancouver aims to tie best start in franchise history; Buffalo looks for more success on Western Canada trip

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

SABRES (1-1-1) at CANUCKS (3-0-0)

10 p.m. ET; SN360, MSG-B, NHL.TV

 
Sabres team scope

The Buffalo Sabres already have guaranteed their best road trip through Western Canada in three seasons after a 6-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday and a 4-3 overtime loss against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, and relish the opportunity for more success. "I think it's extremely important," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "You go on the road for three games out west, and [to] have an opportunity to get five points out of six on a hard road trip is something I think we'd be really pleased with. … It would say a lot about our group to knuckle down here and get two points." It says even more that they've done it without injured forwards Jack Eichel and Evander Kane. "We're facing adversity right away and it forces us to become a stronger team," defenseman Cody Franson said. "When you have all your skill guys in the lineup it's something you can almost rely on a little, and when you don't have them it forces you to come together and try to play as a whole solid unit. This isn't an easy swing, so to get five of six points would be great." Goaltender Robin Lehner will make his fourth straight start for the Sabres.

 
Canucks team scope

Goalie Jacob Markstrom will make his third straight start when the Vancouver Canucks attempt to match a franchise record with their fourth straight win to open the season, but they would prefer to do it without having to stage a comeback. The Canucks, who last opened a season 4-0-0 in 1992, are the first team in NHL history to win their first three games without having a lead in any of them after a third-straight late third-period comeback and a 2-1 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. Markstrom was a surprise starter in that game after No. 1 Ryan Miller experienced tightness in a core muscle in the morning. That forced the Canucks to sign and dress local university goalie Matthew Hewitt as an emergency backup, but Miller returned to practice Wednesday and will back up against the Sabres. Vancouver was 3-30-1 last season when trailing after two periods but already has overcome third-period deficits to beat the Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes and Blues this season. "Obviously we don't want to be playing from behind all season, but it shows the character in this locker room coming from behind and winning three in a row," defenseman Ben Hutton said. "Hopefully we get a lead and finish it that way."

Video: CAR@VAN: Markstrom stones Skinner with pad stop

 
Sabres projected lineup

Sam Reinhart -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Kyle Okposo

Marcus Foligno -- Johan Larsson -- Brian Gionta

Tyler Ennis -- Zemgus Girgensons -- Matt Moulson

Nicolas Deslauriers -- Derek Grant -- Nicholas Baptiste

Josh Gorges -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe -- Zach Bogosian

Dmitry Kulikov -- Cody Franson

Robin Lehner

Anders Nilsson

Scratched: Hudson Fasching, Casey Nelson

Injured: Jack Eichel (ankle), Evander Kane (ribs)

 
Canucks projected lineup

Daniel Sedin -- Henrik Sedin -- Loui Eriksson

Markus Granlund -- Brandon Sutter -- Jannik Hansen

Sven Baertschi -- Bo Horvat -- Jack Skille

Alexandre Burrows -- Brendan Gaunce -- Derek Dorsett

Alexander Edler -- Christopher Tanev

Ben Hutton -- Erik Gudbranson

Luca Sbisa -- Philip Larsen

Jacob Markstrom

Ryan Miller

Scratched: Jake Virtanen, Nikita Tryamkin, Alex Biega

Injured: Anton Rodin (knee), Tom Nilsson (undisclosed)

 
Status report

Larsson was back on the ice Thursday after taking a maintenance day and said he is ready to play against the Canucks, but Bylsma said Hudson Fasching will take warmups in case Larsson can't play. Bylsma will also keep forward Nicholas Baptiste in the lineup after making his NHL debut in Calgary. "I liked his speed, I liked his composure with the puck, something I was looking for from him," Bylsma said. "He was in on the forecheck, turned over a couple pucks for them. He added to our group." … Miller still is expected to play one of the Canucks back-to-back games in California this weekend after missing two scheduled starts. "If he's in uniform, he's got to be able to play tonight if we need him, so the next two games I would think he'll be in," Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins said.

 
Who's hot

O'Reilly already has three goals and five points this season, and has points in eight straight road games dating back to last season, with seven goals and six assists during that streak. … Horvat has scored in consecutive games after being moved up from the fourth line to start the season.

View More