The Buffalo Sabres (9-24-3) could not win the last game of the home-and-home series with the Boston Bruins Saturday night. Tonight, Buffalo looks to get back on the winning track as they play host to the Phoenix Coyotes (19-10-6) at the First Niagara Center.
Last week, Buffalo was finally able to break out with some offense, scoring nine goals in the three games played. The only blemish was Saturday’s game in Boston, where the Sabres scored only once in a 4-1 loss to the Bruins. Sabres interim coach, Ted Nolan, has been striving for more consistent play, but felt it just was not there for his team on Saturday.
“I just think we made some really bad decisions at some wrong times,” said Nolan following Saturday’s loss. “I thought we started off okay for a road game. We kept it pretty quiet until we took a bad penalty. It cost us. We had guys rushing up on the play, trying to make it a 4-on-4 rush. Just bad decisions all around.”
Newly acquired forward, Linus Omark made his debut as a Sabre Saturday night, but was a -1 in 12:57 of total ice-time. Omark played on a line with Kevin Porter and Matt Ellis on Saturday. Omark will look to try and make a good first-impression in front of the home crowd tonight.
The Coyotes are coming off of a thrilling overtime win against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon. Antoine Vermette was the star by scoring a hat-trick in the win, while Mike Smith made 37 saves in the win.
The Sabres got a bit banged-up last week in the home-and-home with the Bruins. Cody Hodgson left Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury he suffered in the first period. Hodgson blocked a shot, and appeared to injure his wrist after the block. Hodgson is listed as day-to-day, but could be ready to go tonight. For Kevin Porter, he injured himself on Saturday night after a collision with Bruins defenseman, Johnny Boychuk, along the boards in the second period. Porter’s injury is not known, but according to Ted Nolan, Porter could be out for a while. Cody McCormick is listed on long-term injured reserve with his upper-body injury.
Earlier in the day today, Mark Pysyk was recalled from the Rochester Americans and could return to the Sabres lineup tonight. Chad Ruhwedel was returned to Rochester to make room for Pysyk. Johan Larsson was also recalled by the Sabres because, according to Ted Nolan, four to five guys called in sick to practice today. Nolan hopes to have his guys feeling better and playing later tonight.
For Phoenix, it is all about the mysterious illness with their captain, Shane Doan. Doan has not played since December 4th against the Calgary Flames. Doan is apparently being treated for symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is a trick-borne bacterial disease that can cause the linings of the blood vessels to leak. Doan has been placed on injured reserve and is out on a week-to-week basis. Zbynek Michalek is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, while Lauri Korpikoski returned to the lineup on Saturday from his upper-body injury.
Ryan Miller is expected to be back in net for Buffalo after Jhonas Enroth patrolled the crease in Boston on Saturday. Mike Smith will look to get the nod again in net for the Coyotes.
Opening faceoff is scheduled for 7:05pm at the First Niagara Center. The game can be seen on MSG and heard on WGR 550 AM.