Surging Sabres host red-hot Flames

The Buffalo Sabres continue a four-game home stand this evening as they welcome the Calgary Flames to First Niagara Center for the first time this season.

It’s been a while since the teams have clashed on the ice; the last meeting was way back on March 18th, where the Sabres dropped a 3-1 decision in Calgary. But the Flames and Sabres of today are very different from the teams that played earlier this year.

The Sabres are currently in the best stretch of hockey played during the second Ted Nolan era, with an admirable 7-3-0 record in their last ten contests. They’re fresh off a 1-0 shutout victory over the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Los Angeles, in a game that was nationally televised on NBC.

That game rejuvenated the team in more than one way. Aside from getting Buffalo back in the win column following two straight losses, it saw the Sabres score their lone goal on the power play. The extra-man tally was Buffalo’s first in five games and just their sixth of the year.

There was a rebound in net, as well. Jhonas Enroth went from allowing five goals against the Tampa Bay Lightning to stopping all 34 shots that the Kings threw his way. It was Enroth’s fourth career NHL shutout, and Buffalo’s first since April 13th of 2013 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Enroth blanked the defending Stanley Cup champions, but he may have an even greater challenge in front of him tonight. The Calgary Flames have been one of the NHL’s biggest surprises this season, jumping out to a 17-10-2 start that has them sitting third in the Pacific division, three points ahead of Los Angeles.

Calgary can attribute much of their success to a furious offense. The Flames lay claim to 87 goals on the year, tied for third most in the league alongside Detroit. Three different Calgary players have already hit ten goals or more: Jiri Hudler, Sean Monahan, and Dennis Wideman.

Their power play has also been a force to be reckoned with, accounting for 21 of Calgary’s total goals so far this season. It’s on the other side of the man-advantage where Calgary has stumbled. The Flames’ are just 27th in the league with their penalty kill (76.1%), having allowed 17 goals while their opponents are on the power play—a weak spot that Buffalo could target to throw some momentum behind their listless special teams unit.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST tonight from First Niagara Center. Fans can catch the action on MSG or listen in through WGR 550. 

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