CANUCKS (6-3-4) at SABRES (5-8-0)
TV: SN, MSG-B
Season series: The Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres split two games last season, each winning at home. Canucks forward Chris Higgins had a goal and an assist in a 5-2 win Jan. 30, and the Sabres used a four-goal third period to win 6-3 on Feb. 26. Former Sabres goalie Ryan Miller made 20 saves in the first game but was sidelined with a sprained knee when the teams played at First Niagara Center.
Canucks team scope: If there was any doubt, coach Willie Desjardins announced Friday that Miller will be in goal. It will be the first time he faces the Sabres in Buffalo, and his 13th start in 14 games this season. Miller's teammates are focused on playing well in front of him. "He built this place. We know how important it'll be to get a win for Ryan, so we're pretty fired up," forward Alexandre Burrows said in comments tweeted by the Canucks. Forward Sven Baertschi, a healthy scratch in a 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, will return to the lineup. "There's lots to work with there. When his confidence gets up he'll be good," Desjardins said. Baertschi has four assists in 10 games. This is the start of a seven-game road trip for Vancouver, which enters the weekend tied for first in the Pacific Division.
Sabres team scope: Forward Jack Eichel, who scored his fifth goal in a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, had new linemates Friday at practice. Eichel skated between Johan Larsson and Jamie McGinn, while other combinations had Ryan O'Reilly centering Matt Moulson and Brian Gionta, Zemgus Girgensons between Tyler Ennis and Sam Reinhart, and David Legwand in the middle of Nicolas Deslauriers and Marcus Foligno. Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma said defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (upper body), who missed the game Thursday, remains day-to-day. Buffalo, which averaged fewer than two goals per game and was 30th in the NHL in scoring each of the past two seasons, ranked 28th at 2.15 goals per game entering Friday. "We've gotten good opportunities and looks, we just need to be better on the execution of it," Bylsma told the Sabres website.