Game 8: Canucks @ Sabres (10.17.13)

Thursday, 17.10.2013 / 12:00 PM
Daniel Fung

Coming off a 3-2 win in Philadelphia on Tuesday to open their seven-game road trip, the Canucks will look for their second straight victory tonight when they battle their expansion cousin, the Buffalo Sabres, at the First Niagara Center.

The Canucks got their comeback win against the Flyers started after mixing up their top two lines in the third period and moving Kesler and Higgins to play with Henrik Sedin and watching the newly-formed top-line combine for both the game-tying goal and the game-winning goal. Based on yesterday's practice lines, it looks that trio will stay together at least to start tonight's contest.

The Sabres, meanwhile, enter tonight's game on a high note after finally picking up their first win on Tuesday with a 4-3 shootout victory over the Islanders. They had started their season going winless in their first seven games. They'll now turn their attention to trying to win their first game in front of their home fans after dropping their first four outings on home ice.

Puck drop at 4 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Vancouver Hockey, THE TEAM 1040, or online at www.teamradio.ca.

KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Get on the board first. If there's one team that has had more trouble than the Canucks with opening the scoring, it's the Sabres. While Vancouver has opened the scoring just twice in seven games played, Buffalo has managed the feat just once in eight games.

2. Zack makes an impact in his return. One player who should be extra motivated tonight is ex-Sabre Zack Kassian, who is making his first trip back to Buffalo since the trade that sent him to Vancouver back in February 2012. He's still searching for his first points of the season but did have a two-point game the last time he faced his old club back in March 2012.

3. Get some secondary scoring. While Cody Hodgson and Thomas Vanek have combined for four goals and 11 points, the rest of the Sabres' forwards have just five goals and nine points put together. Buffalo needs to find a way to remain dangerous even if their top-two are shut down.

IN THE INFIRMARY

For the Canucks…

F Alex Burrows (foot) is on the injured reserve list. D Alex Edler is serving an NHL suspension.

For the Sabres…

F Zemgus Girgensons (facial laceration) is questionable. F Ville Leino (fractured rib) is on the injured reserve list. F Patrick Kaleta is serving an NHL suspension.

DID YOU KNOW?

Even with their win on Tuesday, the Sabres are still off to one of their worst starts in franchise history at 1-6-1. The last time they started this poorly was back in 1999.00 when they stumbled to a 0-5-2 start of the gate and didn't pick up their first victory until their eighth game. They finished that season with a 35-32-11-4 record and just managed to squeak into the playoffs in eighth place.

NUMBERS

2 – Full-time captains for the Sabres this season. Thomas Vanek wears the 'C' at home while Steve Ott gets the honours on the road.

3 – Teenagers on the Sabres' roster: Zemgus Girgensons, Mikhail Grigorenko and Rasmus Ristolainen. Vancouver, by comparison, has none.

5 – Combined power play goals scored between the Canucks and Sabres this season on 49 combined opportunities.

10 – Years since the Canucks' last win in Buffalo – a 4-2 win on February 7, 2003. They are 0-1-2 in three visits since.

25:48 – Average ice-time for Buffalo's Christian Ehrhoff this season, over three minutes per game more than the next team leader.

100 – Career games played in for Christopher Tanev tonight when he suits up against the Sabres.

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