LOS ANGELES – After going back-and-forth from southern to northern California, the Buffalo Sabres are set to concluded their three-game road trip against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night at Staples Center.
It's been an unorthodox flight pattern for the Sabres, who began the week in Southern California for a game against the Anaheim Ducks, flew upstate for a matchup against the San Jose Sharks on Friday and then came right back to play the Kings on the backend of a back-to-back set.
For that reason, the Sabres coaching staff opted for a brief meeting on Saturday morning rather than putting their players on the ice for a morning skate.
"It's obviously a weird situation when you go from Anaheim to San Jose and back here, but I think everyone here is professional," forward Nicolas Deslauriers said. "We know what our body needs and just like this morning, just a little meeting and nobody's going on the ice. We just prepare ourselves, we're all professional athletes and this is what we train for in the summer."
The Sabres will look to continue the strong defensive play that has defined them on this road trip. They held the Ducks, who lead the League in scoring since the All-Star break, to one goal for the first time since Jan. 10 and held the Sharks to one goal for the first time since Jan. 7.
"It's been our focus probably since the beginning of the season," Deslauriers said. "I think guys are [paying] more attention to details and I think we didn’t give up more than 10 scoring chances last game so we've been playing good … Both goalies have been awesome so we just have to keep those numbers low and get more on the other side."
While they lost their game in Anaheim by a 1-0 score, they were more opportunistic offensively in San Jose. Brian Gionta, who put seven shots on net in Anaheim, was finally rewarded for his efforts when he beat Martin Jones with a wrister off a turnover that Johan Larsson knocked in past the goal line.
All the meanwhile, the line of Gionta, Larsson and Marcus Foligno have been consistently matched up defensively against other teams' top line lines. They got the job of defending Cory Perry's line in Anaheim and Joe Thornton's in San Jose. Expect the same in Los Angeles.
"If you're looking at it with what we've been doing the last couple games, I'm sure we'll see one of those top two lines or at least try too," Gionta said. "They're tough. They're big bodies, they're strong, they're fast, and they play a heavy game so again it will be a long night.
"…The minute you lay off for a second or two, they'll make you pay so you've got to be on all game."
The Sabres have met the Kings once this season already, a 2-1 overtime win at First Niagara Center on Nov. 12. Los Angeles has a balanced attack with six 30-point scorers, led by Anze Kopitar (18+34) and Tyler Toffoli (24+21).
Robin Lehner will start in net for the Sabres and will be opposed by former Sabre and fellow Swedish goalie Jhonas Enroth. Defenseman Rob Scuderi, who was acquired by the Kings from the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, is expected to join the lineup against the Sabres.
Coverage begins at 10:30 p.m. with Tops Sabres Gamenight on MSG-B and Bell TV. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
9 Evander Kane – 23 Sam Reinhart – 56 Justin Bailey
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 15 Jack Eichel – 88 Jamie McGinn
82 Marcus Foligno – 22 Johan Larsson – 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 17 David Legwand – 26 Matt Moulson
4 Josh Gorges – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe – 47 Zach Bogosian
25 Carlo Colaiacovo – 3 Mark Pysyk
40 Robin Lehner
31 Chad Johnson