UPDATE (5:09 p.m.): Sabres coach Ted Nolan said Patrick Kaleta will be the only player unable to make Thuesday night's home game against the San Jose Sharks due to the severe winter weather conditions in parts of Western New York.
He said he'd rather have Kaleta home safe than have him drive through dangerous conditions on the roads to make the game. The Sabres have enough healthy bodies to field a full lineup.
There is no telling how many people will be able to attend the game tonight and Nolan is intrigued to see how that unique variable plays out once the puck drops.
"To me, it’s going to be really interesting to see who really plays just to play, whether it’s 20,000 people in the rink or whether it’s 20 people in the rink," Nolan said. "To me, 20 people are just as important to play in front of as 20,000 people. We’ll see how the players react to that."
Inclement weather in the Western New York region was responsible for a sparsely attended morning skate at First Niagara Center on Tuesday, but the Buffalo Sabres are prepared to work on building off Saturday’s big win.
The San Jose Sharks are in town for a 7:30 p.m. faceoff (TV: NBCSN; Radio: WGR 550) to wrap up a seven-game road trip. Buffalo, in the midst of a three-game homestand, is coming off a 6-2 victory over Toronto.
The Sabres are currently on a franchise-best seven-game winning streak against the Sharks. The previous record was four-straight wins, set the first four times the teams faced off (Oct. 25, 1991 to Oct. 23, 1992).
San Jose has only won one game in Buffalo in the franchise’s history, a 5-0 win on Dec. 2, 2005. The Sabres have won all three home games since then and are 15-1-0 all-time in Buffalo against the Sharks.
“We can’t take that winning streak for granted. We’ve got to come out here strong again,” Sabres forward Marcus Foligno
said. “They have a lot of good players that can put the puck in the net so you’ve got to get involved early and make sure you stay on this team.”
Buffalo will try for back-to-back wins for the first time this season. Rookie defenseman Nikita Zadorov thinks that the play of the team's forwards has made a big difference, especially on the forecheck.
“Just keep going and play simple. Play physical like we did before and all the forwards, they’re hitting their D and putting pressure on the D,” he said. “I think it’s hard for every D when the forwards come and are forechecking and pressuring hard. That’s how they make mistakes and we have scoring chances.
'A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING'
One real bright spot has been the play of sophomore center Zemgus Girgensons, who has six points (4+2) in his past five games. He’s tied for the team lead for goals with linemate Tyler Ennis. They each have six.
The chemistry they’ve developed on a line with Matt Moulson on the left side has been a big reason why the Sabres have played better as of late. Moulson and Ennis are each bringing three-game point streaks into Tuesday night’s game.
“We’re just having fun. We don’t think too much,” Girgensons said. “We just go out there and play and have a little bit of everything – grit, skill, scoring, playmaking. We have a lot of stuff we can do out there.”
The Sabres are expected to field the same lineup that came up with that 6-2 victory over Toronto. Coach Ted Nolan is scheduled to address the media a few hours before the game so stick with Sabres.com for his full comments later on.
TICKET EXCHANGE AVAILABLE
The Sabres organization is urging anyone planning to attend tonight’s game to obey all local traffic advisories and driving bans. Those who decide it is safe to travel to tonight’s game are encouraged to use caution and allow for extra driving time to the arena.
Fans unable to attend the game will be able to exchange their unused tickets from the game for tickets to a future Sabres game. Tickets and location will be based on availability.
Tickets can be exchanged here or by visiting the box office at First Niagara Center for the following games:
Nov. 26 vs. Winnipeg
Dec. 2 vs. Tampa Bay
Dec. 9 vs. Los Angeles
Dec. 11 vs. Calgary
Jan. 15 vs. Minnesota
Feb. 5 vs. St. Louis
Feb. 10 vs. Ottawa
Feb. 22 vs. Nashville
Feb. 26 vs. Vancouver
March 16 vs. Washington
March 26 vs. Arizona
26 Matt Moulson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
65 Brian Flynn – 17 Torrey Mitchell – 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 8 Cody McCormick – 21 Drew Stafford
82 Marcus Foligno – 19 Cody Hodgson – 80 Chris Stewart
24 Tyson Strachan – 57 Tyler Myers
51 Nikita Zadorov – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 41 Andrej Meszaros
34 Michal Neuvirth
1 Jhonas Enroth
Scratched: 36 Patrick Kaleta, 61 Andre Benoit
Injured: 4 Josh Gorges (lower body)