LOS ANGELES – Coming off a big win against one of the NHL’s best teams in the San Jose Sharks, the Buffalo Sabres hope to keep the good vibes going.
The Sabres take the ice against the Los Angeles Kings at 7:30 p.m. (10:30 p.m. in Buffalo) at Staples Center on Thursday.
Sabres forward Drew Stafford had a goal and an assist in the Sabres’ 5-4 shootout win against the Sharks and looks to continue rolling.
“The main word is ‘building.’ We want to continue to try and take the positives out of things,” Stafford said. “Obviously winning a game helps. Taking the positives off after losing so many in a row, it gets hard. It’s a challenge. To finally get a big win like that definitely lightens the mood around here. At the same time, it gives us a little bit of a boost to have a good one against a very good team.
Sabres coach Ron Rolston stressed the importance of using that win to propel them into a good start against the Kings.
“I liked a lot of things about last game and now it’s our job to build off of that and try to gain some momentum from that game,” he said. “We’re playing another team tonight that’s similar in terms of their style of play. They’re heavy so our compete’s going to have to be up there right off the bat.”
Defenseman Tyler Myers played 21:36 against the Sharks and said he had one of his most aggressive games of the season, particularly in the offensive zone. He said that strong play from the forwards will allow more opportunities for the defense to jump into the play.
“I think that was by far our best game as a team,” he said. “…I think for me, it’s trying not to force something that’s not there. I think, especially last [game], it’s seeing the opportunity and trying to take advantage of that.
"Last [game], it was probably one of my more aggressive offensive games so far but I think a lot of that had to do with how well our forwards controlled the puck and got after the puck on the forecheck, especially. When they’re doing their job as well as they did last game, it makes the back end’s job a whole lot easier to try and help them offensively."
Rolston said that Myers strong play stems mostly from the confidence he has in his game right now.
“I think he’s building his game and these couple, I think he’s done more offensively for us, which again build off of how he’s feeling about his game,” Rolston said. “I think he feels good about it and from there, from that foundation, I think he’s gaining confidence at the offensive end.”
Rookie Johan Larsson got into his first career fight against the Sharks. He was an aggressor and agitator for most of the night and dropped the gloves with Tyler Kennedy early in the second period. The fight started with a scrum in the corner as he and Kennedy exchanged words and a few crosschecks.
“It’s a part of the game so everything’s good. It happened very very quickly so you just have to be prepared for that,” Larsson said.
The Sabres will stick with the same combination of forwards and defensemen as they did against San Jose. The only change will come in net as Jhonas Enroth will start in goal. Rolston said that the team planned to give Enroth this game all along.
Keeping the same lineup means rookies Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov will be once again be healthy scratches.
“I would hope they’re disappointed to not be in the lineup, but it is what is. We won a game last time, so we kept the lineup the same,” Rolston said.
Forward John Scott will serve the last game of his seven-game suspension on Thursday. He’s eligible to return on Friday against the Anaheim Ducks.
Rolston said that he and the coaching staff will make lineup decisions on a game-by-game basis but also said that Scott, Grigorenko and Zadorov have been working hard.
26 Matt Moulson – 19 Cody Hodgson – 63 Tyler Ennis
9 Steve Ott – 82 Marcus Foligno – 78 Corey Tropp
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 22 Johan Larsson – 65 Brian Flynn
23 Ville Leino – 8 Cody McCormick – 21 Drew Stafford
10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
4 Jamie McBain – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
1 Jhonas Enroth
30 Ryan Miller
Scratched: 25 Mikhail Grigorenko, 61 Nikita Zadorov
Suspended: 32 John Scott