SAN JOSE, Calif. ---
It was after 2 a.m. local time when the Buffalo Sabres finally arrived at their hotel in downtown San Jose on Thursday, so there was no morning skate for the team today in advance of tonight’s contest with the Sharks at HP Pavilion. Game time is 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT.
Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff will hold his game-day media availability about two hours before the game. Check back to Sabres.com for later for audio of his press conference along with any lineup news.
A curfew at San Jose International Airport prevents flights from taking off or landing after 11 p.m., so the Sabres actually flew 40 miles further north to Oakland, and followed that up with a 45-minute bus ride back down I-880 to their final destination. It will be more of the same following tonight’s game, with the Sabres not expected to arrive in Vancouver until sometime in the range of 2 a.m.
Of course, more time on the bus after games also allows for more of the most unpredictable conversations you’ll ever have. Last night’s ride featured a lot of pro wrestling talk, as broadcast producer Joe Pinter challenged anyone to name a wrestler so he could dazzle us with random facts about them. And if you think Brian Duff is a walking encyclopedia of NHL facts, you’ll be surprised to know he’s well versed in wrestling lore too, even dropping an Iron Mike Sharpe reference on the group. I also learned something when Kevin Sylvester chimed in with the news that the legendary Adrian Adonis was from Kenmore, NY. A quick check of Wikipedia also taught me that Adonis was killed in a car accident in Newfoundland while swerving to avoid a moose.
But I digress.
The Sabres (28-27-8, 64 points) come into tonight’s game on a 4-0-2 roll, and are trying to earn points in seven consecutive games for the first time this season. They are five points behind eight-place Washington for the final playoff spot in the East, and win tonight would move them into 10th spot – leapfrogging over the idle Maple Leafs and Lightning. The Winnipeg Jets hold down ninth-place in the East, and they could overtake Washington tonight with a win in Florida. The Capitals don’t play again until Friday when the host the New Jersey Devils.
The Sharks (33-22-7, 73 points) are two points behind the Pacific Division-leading Phoenix Coyotes, with one game in hand. San Jose defeated Philadelphia 1-0 on Tuesday, and they are looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since February 2. Tuesday’s game was San Jose’s first at home after a 17-day road trip that saw them stumble to a 2-6-1 mark, and drop them out of first place in the Pacific.
Head coach Todd McLellan is suffering from concussion-like symptoms, and will not be behind the Sharks bench for the second straight game after being struck in the head by an opposing player's stick during Saturday’s game in Minnesota. Jamie McGinn and Minnesota’s Marco Scandella were involved in a play along the boards in front of the Sharks bench when Scandella’s stick came around and “tomahawked” McLellan in the head. He eventually made his way to the Sharks’ locker room under his own power after appearing to collapse behind the bench.
SABRES at SHARKS
-Only meeting of the season between the Sabres and Sharks.
-When we last met: Buffalo defeated San Jose, 3-0, in San Jose on Jan. 6, 2011.
-The Sabres are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Sharks; 2-4-4 on the road.STORYLINES
-Buffalo has earned points in six consecutive games (4-0-2) entering tonight’s game, tying the season-high set between Jan. 24 and Feb. 10 (5-0-1). The Sabres last had points in seven straight from Feb. 23 to March 6 last season, when they went 5-0-2.
-Ryan Miller is 4-0-1 in his last five games with a .957 save percentage and a 1.36 goals against average. Miller set a regular season franchise record for most saves in a shutout with 43 saves last night at ANA, topping Dominik Hasek’s 42 saves in a 1-0 win vs. MTL on Dec. 19, 1997.
-With Cody Hodgson
’s debut last night, Buffalo has dressed 33 players (30 skaters, 3 goaltenders) this season. It is their highest total since they had the same number in 2003-04. The Sabres have also dressed nine rookies for the first time since 2006-07.THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
The Sabres are 4-1-0 against Pacific division teams this season… Buffalo is 24-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 20-4-3 when scoring three or more… The Sabres are 16-8-5 with Tyler Ennis
in the lineup this season and 7-1-3 when he records a point (34-9-7 in his career)…Buffalo has scored first in their last seven games, going 4-1-2.