EDMONTON – Matt Hackett, please stand up! It’s your turn to take a ride on the Buffalo Sabres goaltending carousel!
Hackett will make his first NHL start in almost a year tonight as the Sabres attempt to bring an end to a seven-game losing streak against the Edmonton Oilers, winners of their last two games.
With injuries to Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth, Hackett was recalled Monday from Rochester on an emergency basis. He served as Nathan Lieuwen’s backup in Calgary on Tuesday, and will be the fourth different goaltender that Buffalo has used in the last five games when he hits the ice tonight.
Hackett will become the fifth goaltender to start for Buffalo this season, joining Enroth, Neuvirth, Lieuwen and Ryan Miller. Buffalo hasn’t used this many goalies in one season since 1995-96 – Dominik Hasek, Andrei Trefilov, Martin Biron, John Blue and Steve Shields.
In addition, Hackett will also become the 43rd player to see action for Buffalo this season, matching the franchise record for players used in a season set twice previous.
Hackett’s last NHL start was as a member of the Minnesota Wild on March 29, 2013, when he faced 33 shots in a 5-3 loss to Dallas.
Hackett enters tonight’s game with a career record of 3-7-0, all with the Wild. His last five NHL starts have resulted in losses. Hackett's last win was a relief appearance on March 8, 2012 against Phoenix when he took over for the injured Josh Harding in the second period, and stopped 17 of 19 shots in a 3-2 shootout victory.
It’ll be 356 days between NHL starts for Hackett, so he’s expecting to experience a few butterflies before the opening faceoff at Rexall Place.
“I haven’t played in the National Hockey league in a while, so there’s always some nerves. I’m confident going into tonight. I’ll just play my game and I’ll be fine.”
Hackett has been incredibly streaky in Rochester since the calendar flipped to 2014. He lost three straight to start the new year, then reeled off four consecutive wins. He’s currently in the midst of a five-game losing streak, having allowed 25 goals during this run.
“The past few games have been tough. But I’ve been working hard in practice trying to get my game back. I feel like I’m getting better.”
Sloppy play late in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss in Calgary has sent Ville Leino back to the press box. Zenon Konopka, scratched on Tuesday, will be inserted in Leino’s spot tonight and will play on the fourth line with John Scott and Matt Ellis.
Tyler Myers didn’t travel with the Sabres to start this road trip, and he won’t be leaving Buffalo anytime soon. There was some thought that Myers would join the team at some point during the trip, but Nolan said today that Myers will be out for at least another week. With Buffalo finishing the five-game road trip next Thursday in Nashville, that would put Myers’ return date to at least March 29 when the Sabres return home to face Tampa Bay.
The Sabres are just 8-21-3 all-time on the road against the Oilers, but come into tonight’s game having won their last three games in Edmonton. It’s been more than 10 years since Buffalo last lost in Edmonton - October 16, 2003.
TONIGHT’S PROJECTED LINES
Marcus Foligno – Tyler Ennis – Drew Stafford
Cory Conacher – Cody Hodgson – Torrey Mitchell
Nicolas Deslauriers – Brian Flynn – Matt D’Agostini
John Scott – Matt Ellis – Zenon Konopka
Christian Ehrhoff – Rasmus Ristolainen
Jamie McBain – Mike Weber
Chad Ruhwedel – Henrik Tallinder