Trying to bounce back from a 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, the Buffalo Sabres will be right back at it Saturday night to wrap up a four-game homestand with the Pittsburgh Penguins in town.
The Sabres will make a few changes to their lineup. Mike Weber and Tyson Strachan will be back in on defense, but Sabres coach Ted Nolan did not specific which defensemen would be out.
Jhonas Enroth will start in goal. Marcus Foligno, recovering for a shoulder injury sustained in the team's last game against the Penguins, is still not ready to go and will sit out for a fourth-straight game.
It’s the second time the two teams have faced off in the past seven days. The Penguins defeated the Sabres 5-0 in Pittsburgh on Nov. 1, scoring three power-play goals.
The Sabres will also close the book on the fifth of 19 sets of back-to-back games this season. Buffalo is 2-2-0 in the second game of back-to-back sets so far this season.
So what do the Sabres need to fix in order to a winning result to be more likely?
“What needs to change is our approach, our attention to details,” Nolan said. “Sometimes we do it, sometimes we don’t and that’s a sign of trying to become what we want to become, but still those ugly heads keep popping up and destroying our momentum.”
Details like developing good habits and playing well more consistently are on the minds of the players as well.
“There was a reason why we were having some success and that’s because we were doing the little things. We were committed to playing a hard game and we have to continue to do that if we want to be successful,” alternate captain Josh Gorges said.
“If we think we can come into a game and play light and play easy, games like last night are going to happen. I think that’s a learning curve for us and something we’ve got to make sure we take a hold of and grasp moving forward.”
The Penguins’ power play is currently tops in the NHL at 37.3 percent (19-for-51).
“The biggest thing when you’re playing a team with a power play as good as theirs, you’ve got to stay out of the box. You can’t take the dumb, selfish penalties,” Sabres alternate captain Josh Gorges said. “The good penalties, we’ve to go out there as penalty killers to get the job done because it’s going to happen. But we can’t afford to take selfish, lazy penalties against a team like this. They’ll cost you every time.”
The Sabres have killed off seven penalties in a row. The last time they gave up a power-play goal was against Pittsburgh.
One defenseman will suit up for sure, according to Nolan.
Nikita Zadorov will play in his fifth game of the season for the Sabres and his fourth in a row. The 19-year-old defenseman can play up to nine games before the Sabres must decide if they want to activate his entry-level contract by keeping him in the NHL all season or assign him to the London Knights, his club in the Ontario Hockey League.
Nolan has been very happy with both Zadorov’s attitude and play in the recent weeks. He said Zadorov still eagerly asks every day if he’s in the lineup and has earned the right to play.
Zadorov skated a season-high 15:23 against Edmonton.
“He wasn’t in there before because he wasn’t doing the right things in order to get there. We have to stop just giving things away here. By just putting him in ‘because’ was not the right thing to do. He had to work his way in,” Nolan said. His body wasn’t in great shape. His attention, his off-ice behaviors weren’t the best.
“Until he started doing that, we decided to put him in and he’s maturing before our eyes. I have to give him a lot of credit for it because he’s doing a lot of things off the ice equally as well as he’s doing it on the ice.”
NO EXTRA DISCIPLINE EXPECTED
After the final horn sounded Friday night, Sabres center Tyler Ennis was assessed a 10-minute game misconduct. He apologized to the officials after the game and does not expect to hear anything further from the League about the incident.
“I was a little frustrated,” he explained. “I just went to talk to the linesman and tap him on the bum lightly but I think I got his hand a little bit. And he was a little upset so I went and apologized after the game to him and the referees. I said I shouldn’t take my frustrations out on them because they’re just doing their jobs.”
MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT
The organization will hold its annual ‘Military Appreciation Night’ on Saturday as well.
The night will be dedicated to honoring both current and former members of our nation’s armed forces and will feature several tributes throughout the night.
The national anthem will be performed by retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. Gregory Gjurich and there will be a color guard represented by the U.S. Marines and Detective Sgt. Scott Wade from the Ontario Provincial Police. There will also be a pregame ceremony featuring a veteran from each branch of the U.S. military and one representative from the Canadian Armed Forces.
As a salute to the military, Sabres players will wear special camouflage jerseys during warm-ups. The jerseys will be auctioned on NHL.com from Nov. 8 at 10 p.m. to Nov. 17 at 9 p.m. with proceeds benefitting the Buffalo Sabres Foundation.
Military members will also receive a 25 percent discount at the Sabres Store on Nov. 8. In addition, fans are encouraged to submit their Sabres military photos to sabres.com/fanscrapbook for the chance to be featured on the HD videoboard throughout the game.
The United Way will be on hand as well to sell OPERATION UNITED tees in the main pavilion with proceeds benefiting veterans’ services in Western New York. Short-sleeved shirts are $15 and long-sleeved shirts are $20. The shirts will also be on sale during the Sabres’ Nov. 15 game against Toronto.