VANCOUVER – The Buffalo Sabres have gone with Jhonas Enroth in goal for the past three games, but Matt Hackett could make his season debut Friday night.
The Sabres and Vancouver Canucks are set to square off at 10 p.m. EST at Rogers Arena. The Tops Gamenight pregame show begins at 9:30 p.m. EST on MSG-B and Bell. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
Coach Ted Nolan wouldn’t tip his hand when speaking to the media after a team meeting Friday morning when it came to who his starting goaltender would be.
Enroth has a .851 save percentage in his past three games and has carried the load for Buffalo for much of the season. He’s played in a career-high 33 of 49 games so far.
Hackett, up from the Rochester Americans because Michal Neuvirth is out with a lower-body injury, is working his way back from a serious knee injury sustained last April.
In three games with the Amerks, Hackett has gone 1-2-0 with a 3.10 goals-against average and a .886 save percentage.
“With us, a lot of guys have been ‘pretty good’ but we have to be better,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “That’s goaltending out to forwards to defense. We just need better efforts from everybody.”
Rookie defenseman Nikita Zadorov will also return to the lineup after sitting out the past two games as a healthy scratch. Nolan would not confirm which defenseman Zadorov would be replacing.
Former Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller will start for Vancouver. It will mark the first time Miller has played against his former club. Miller played parts of 11 seasons for Buffalo before being traded to St. Louis last February. Miller holds the Buffalo franchise records for games played (541) and wins (284).
“He’s a world-class goaltender and we’ve watched him here or a number of years. If there’s a team that knows his tendencies, it’s our team,” Nolan said. “But even knowing those types of things, it’s still hard to put them by him.”
Neither Enroth nor Hackett have faced Miller in their careers.
SNAP OUT OF IT
Buffalo is in the midst of a 13-game losing streak, in which all of the games have ended in regulation. They’ve been outscored 56-19 over that stretch and have opened the scoring in each of the past four contests, but haven’t been able to hang on.
“You look at the video, there are some really good things being done. And then there are some not-so-good things being done. It gets back to playing a full 60 minutes,” Tyler Myers said. “A lot of it is just little things. There are guys going well for us right now and we’ve just gotta get all 20 guys on the same page. Once we do that, we’ve got to work to be consistent.”
Myers blocked a shot toward the end of the game against Edmonton on Thursday off the inside of his left ankle. He had to be helped off the ice and looked to be in a considerable amount of discomfort. However, the injury proved to not be as bad as it looked and he’ll be in against Vancouver.
NEW PLAYERS FOR VANCOUVER
Two players will be up with the Canucks for the first time.
Wheatfield, N.Y. native Adam Clendening was acquired in a trade with Chicago on Thursday and Friday morning, the Canucks called him from the American Hockey League. The 22-year-old defenseman has played in four games for the Blackhawks this season, recording a goal and an assist. However, he will not play Friday night.
And Zemgus Girgensons will no longer be the only Latvian in the NHL. Forward Rolands Kenins will make his NHL debut Friday against Buffalo.
“I’ve been telling everybody for the last three years, I mean this guy can play,” Nolan, who got to know Kenins while coaching the Latvian national team, said. “He’s a very entertaining soul. He’s competitive as heck. We have one Latvian on our team and everybody knows how hard he works. And this is another one that has a tremendous amount of work ethic.”