VANCOUVER - Linus Ullmark will start in net for the Buffalo Sabres as they face a struggling Vancouver Canucks team on Monday night at Rogers Arena. Buffalo is looking to rebound from a 4-2 loss in Edmonton on Sunday.
The Canucks, meanwhile, are on a five-game winless streak, going 0-3-2 and being outscored 17-5 in that stretch. Vancouver is 3-7-4 since dropping a 3-2 decision to the Sabres on Nov. 7 at First Niagara Center.
Pregame coverage begins at 9:30 p.m. with Tops Sabres Gamenight on MSG-B and Bell TV. The game can be heard live on WGR 550 with puck drop set for 10 p.m.
Former Sabre Ryan Miller will start in net for the Canucks. For as much as Vancouver has struggled recently, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said that his team is solely focused on their own execution.
“We’re not listening to that situation,” he said. “We need to desperately get wins and we feel like we let one slip away last night. We have to get right back on the horse and get in the win column regardless of the situation and where the Canucks are at.”
To do that, the Sabres will need to play well right from puck drop. Bylsma said that first periods were a problem even in their four-game point streak that preceded the loss to Edmonton on Sunday, in which Buffalo allowed three first-period goals.
“Over the last five [games], we’ve won some hockey games in those five but our first periods have not been good,” Bylsma said. “We talked about it today, our mentality with the puck and our execution with the puck, [the first period is] by far the period we’ve turned the puck over the most in the past five games.
“That’s really maybe the most disappointing thing about last night’s game is we have to do a better job with our mentality – being ready to execute, being ready to manage the puck the right way – to have a better start here.”
Aside from Ullmark making his first start since a 5-4 shootout loss in Detroit on Tuesday, Bylsma said that his lineup is a game-time decision. Zemgus Girgensons is available to play despite exiting the game in Edmonton early after being hit in the face with the puck.
“Zemgus is fine,” Bylsma said. “I mean, if taking a puck to the lip and getting 12 stitches is fine, he’s fine.”
The game will be a special one for Sam Reinhart, a native of North Vancouver. The rookie is set to play in his hometown for the first time in his NHL career.
“It’s a good thing,” Bylsma said. “It should be an exciting thing for him and he’s going to get an opportunity probably pretty early in this contest to show it.”