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Sabres prepping for physical battle in Anaheim

Pregame notes ahead of Wednesday's meeting with the Ducks

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

ANAHEIM - Linus Ullmark will start in net when the Sabres open a three-game California road trip tonight in Anaheim. 

Ullmark is coming off a 41-save effort in his last outing, a 3-2 shootout win over Florida on Friday. He's posted a .931 save percentage in two starts this season. 

The Sabres are back on the road after sweeping a three-game homestand, which concluded with a 4-0 win over Dallas on Monday. They had 10 different skaters record a point in that game and have had 17 players find the score sheet through their first five games.

"This is a good game for that because so far Anaheim has been a four-line team," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "They've got the top [lines] around 18 [minutes], the bottoms around 13 on their four lines so it's that kind of a game today where we also will need all four lines.

"Of course, we're enjoying threats from all different lines and all different positions five-on-five. I think that's something we're building towards here."

The Sabres enter the contest 5-0-1, their longest point streak to begin a season since the team started 6-0-2 in 2008-09. They're looking to earn points in their first three road games for the first time since 2011-12. 

Pregame coverage on MSG begins at 9:30 p.m., or you can listen live on WGR 550. The puck drops at 10.


Scouting the Ducks

Video: PREGAME: Ralph Krueger

Anaheim has allowed an average of 1.67 goals per game, tied for the NHL lead. The Sabres are tied for fourth in the league with an average of 4.00 goals scored per game, which is the number they put up against Vezina Trophy candidate Ben Bishop of the Stars on Monday. 

"The strongest defensive team that we've played so far if you look especially here at home allowing only two goals in their first two home games and then going on the road and allowing only eight in four is quite impressive," Krueger said of the Ducks. 

"We need to definitely be that much better driving to the net, we need to be stronger in the slot, be ready for some additional physicality here to get opportunities. They like to keep their D posted net-front to protect the goalies so that space is tight. There is room outside in the O-zone and we need to generate some speed there through cycles and cutbacks and so on."

John Gibson will start for the Ducks, sporting a .941 save percentage and 1.82 goals-against average through five contests this season. His career save percentage of .922 is tied with Ken Dryden and Dominik Hasek as the highest among all-time NHL goalies with at least 200 games played. 


Projected lineup*

68 Victor Olofsson - 9 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 22 Johan Larsson - 21 Kyle Okposo
53 Jeff Skinner - 90 Marcus Johansson - 17 Vladimir Sobotka
13 Jimmy Vesey - 37 Casey Mittelstadt - 71 Evan Rodrigues

19 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
26 Rasmus Dahlin - 33 Colin Miller
6 Marco Scandella - 10 Henri Jokiharju 

35 Linus Ullmark
40 Carter Hutton

*Based on Tuesday's practice and subject to change.

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