Carter Hutton will start in net as the Buffalo Sabres open a back-to-back set of games at home against the Vancouver Canucks this afternoon.
It will be Hutton's first start Dec. 19, a 6-1 loss in Philadelphia. Linus Ullmark has started the team's last eight games, though coach Ralph Krueger spoke highly of Hutton's preparation in the meantime.
"He's been working so hard," Krueger said. "Often, when you're not starting, you actually see more pucks and have more work than the one starting. So, in the goalie position, I've never seen that as an issue. I think that [assistant coach Mike Bales] has been doing a lot of work with him to give him confidence and solidify what we need to see from him so we're optimistic he's ready for this one."
Hutton started the season with wins in his first six starts, including two shutouts. He has gone without a win since then despite taking four games to overtime, two of which he made 40-plus saves.
"We aren't even thinking about that," Krueger said. "We don't look at streaks or talk about them or address them here at all. 'What can we do today' is really the best way in this league to perform or have excellence, is to have the smallest possible picture when that puck's dropped. That's the way we're preparing him, is for this. Nothing else has even been part of our coaching conversation."
Jake McCabe will be back in the lineup after missing the game in St. Louis on Thursday with an upper-body injury. Zemgus Girgensons will also play after taking a maintenance day on Friday.
The Sabres will dress 12 forwards and six defensemen. Zach Bogosian, Colin Miller, and Scott Wilson will be scratched.
Scouting the Canucks
The Canucks left home on Sunday having won seven games in a row. The first two contests of their current road trip haven't been as kind: a 9-2 loss in Tampa on Tuesday, followed by a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday.
Vancouver's power play ranks fourth in the NHL at 25 percent but has gone 0-for-10 in the team's last three games. Elias Pettersson leads the team with 18 power-play points, while J.T. Miller has scored a team-high seven goals with the extra man.
Jacob Markstrom, who was added to the Pacific Division All-Star roster on Jan. 3, will start in net. He's 15-12-3 with a .914 save percentage this season.
Coverage on MSG begins at 12:30 p.m. You can also listen to the game on WGR 550, with puck drop scheduled for 1.