Game 73: Canucks vs. Sabres (3.23.14)
You'd have to think if the Canucks are going to string together consecutive victories at any point between now and the end of the regular season that there's no better opportunity than tonight to do so considering they're facing the league's worst team. Then again the Canucks have had a recent history of coming up empty even when facing supposedly inferior competition. But perhaps getting a few reinforcements will be the momentum boost the Canucks need to finally get over that hump. Daniel Sedin will be back in the lineup tonight while Ryan Kesler is also a possibility to return. Vancouver will lose one key member of their lineup, however, in Alex Burrows, who suffered a left hand injury in the victory of the Predators on Wednesday.
The Sabres, like the Canucks, are looking to string together back-to-back wins for the first time in what seems like ages. They are coming off a 3-1 win over Edmonton on Thursday – a victory that snapped a seven-game losing streak. Buffalo has not won consecutive games since a three-game win streak to close out the month of February. They have won consecutive road games just once this season back in October and that two-game road win streak was separated by a three-game home stand. This is the second and final meeting between the Canucks and Sabres. Vancouver blanked Buffalo 3-0 back on October 17 thanks to a 25-save performance by now ex-Canuck Roberto Luongo. Eddie Lack gets the start once again for the Canucks tonight while the Sabres will counter with rookie Nathan Lieuwen. Prior to puck drop, the Canucks will honour Henrik Sedin for suiting up in his 1,000th career NHL game. Henrik appeared in the milestone game back on March 12 in Winnipeg.
Puck drop at 5 pm PT - Live on Sportsnet Pacific, The TEAM 1040, or online at teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
Daniel offsets Alex. Daniel Sedin wasn't exactly firing on all cylinders at the time of his injury but his return should still be a boost for the Canucks. It will definitely have to be since the Canucks are losing one of their hottest players at the same time in Alex Burrows. Daniel had just one assist in 17 games at the time he was injured. Picking up where he left off is not an option.
Stop Stafford. One of the few bright lights for the Sabres lately has been Drew Stafford, who comes into tonight's game with five goals and six points in his last seven outings. The Canucks will want to make sure they don't let him have his way offensively.
Lieuwen steals the show. Given the woeful state of the Sabres' offence this season, it's no secret that Buffalo counts on their goalies perhaps more than any other team in the league to win games for them. The Sabres will give the netminding duties tonight to rookie Nathan Lieuwen and they'll need him to stand on his head if they hope to come away with a win.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Sabres since they traded away franchise goaltender Ryan Miller (3-8-0).
Win percentage for the Canucks since they traded away franchise goaltender Roberto Luongo (4-5-0).
Goals per game average for the Sabres this season, by far the lowest in the NHL.
Game point streak for Nicklas Jensen (3-1-4) entering tonight’s game.
Goalies to appear in at least one game for the Sabres this season.
Games missed due to injury by Alex Burrows this season. Tonight will be his 33rd game missed this season.