SABRES (30-11-6) at DUCKS (22-20-7)
Buffalo 8-0-2; Anaheim 6-4-0
This is the only meeting of the 2009-10 season between these teams. Anaheim swept a pair of games last season by identical 3-2 scores, getting a third-period power-play goal by Corey Perry
on Feb. 2 at Honda Center and a 34-save performance by Jean-Sebastien Giguere on Feb. 24 at HSBC Arena.
Buffalo surged into the Eastern Conference lead Monday night with a dominant effort in Phoenix. The Sabres, who have missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, now have 66 points -- tied with the Capitals, but with one fewer game played. They could have first all to themselves by the end of Tuesday, depending on what happens in their game and Washington's matchup with Detroit.
Six different players scored goals and 11 recorded points as Buffalo won 7-2 in Phoenix. Jason Pominville
led the way with a pair of tallies and he, Thomas Vanek
, Jochen Hecht
and Tim Connolly all finished with three-point efforts. The Sabres haven't lost a game in regulation since Dec. 23 in Washington, and now stand prepared to do battle with the Capitals and Devils for the East's top seed.
"I don't think a lot of people expected it at the start of the year but we believed, and we still do," Pominville said. "We're doing things the right way and we've got to keep that going."
In spite of injuries that have knocked veteran forwards Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu
out of the lineup, Anaheim has been making up ground in the Western Conference by taking care of business on home ice. The Ducks enter Tuesday with seven straight wins at the Honda Center, including a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over the Flames on Sunday in which Perry and Bobby Ryan
scored third-period goals.
"We knew what was at stake," Perry said. "We're looking at the standings and we know what is going on. It's up to us. We have to go out and get every point we can. Those two points are huge for us. It was one of those games where we had to find a way to win."
Connolly's three assists Monday gave the Buffalo forward a 12-game points streak in which he's compiled five goals and 14 assists. Vanek has two goals and four assists in his last five games. Goalie Ryan Miller
is on a 6-0-1 run.
Perry has three goals and six points in Anaheim's last seven games. Ryan has a goal and three assists in the last four games. Rookie Dan Sexton
has two goals and two assists in the last four games and eight goals in 22 games since being called up. Goalie Jonas Hiller
is on a 6-1-0 run.
Koivu is out with a sprained right knee, while Selanne had jaw surgery after being hit by a puck. The Ducks are also without forward Joffrey Lupul, who is recovering from back surgery.
Rookie defenseman Tyler Myers
, who opened the scoring for the Sabres on Monday, leads all first-year players in assists (20), plus-minus (plus-12) and ice time (23:17). … Among the Anaheim players fueling the home streak, Ryan has five goals and five assists in his last seven games at Honda Center and Ryan Getzlaf
has four goals and seven assists in his last 10 games there.
The Ducks start a six-game road trip once the Sabres leave town -- it would be a huge momentum boost to continue their roll on home ice at the expense of an Eastern Conference powerhouse.