The Buffalo Sabres finally produced a few positives at the end of their West Coast road trip and hope to build on that when they host the Vancouver Canucks on Friday. The Sabres picked up their first victory of the season at Anaheim on Sunday and followed by scoring three times in the final 10 minutes of regulation before dropping a 5-4 decision in overtime at Vegas two days later.
“We can’t take periods off and shifts off,” Buffalo’s leading scorer Evander Kane (five goals, 10 points) told reporters after the setback. “We just played the way we need to play. Unfortunately, it took until the third period to get in the right mindset as a group.” The Sabres look to keep things going and grab their first victory on home ice when they face the Canucks, who have dropped four of five contests (1-3-1) and are 1-1-0 on their five-game road trip. Vancouver gave up three power-play goals during defenseman Erik Gudbranson’s five-minute boarding penalty in the first period and went on to lose 6-3 at Boston on Thursday. Rookie Brock Boeser notched an assist in the contest and has recorded at least one point in all four games he has played this season to lead the team with five.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet 360 (Vancouver), MSG (Buffalo)
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (2-3-1): Twin brothers Henrik and Daniel Sedin, who have combined for 2,010 points in their NHL careers, have been kept off the scoresheet in four consecutive games. Thomas Vanek and Bo Horvat each notched his third goal of the campaign against Boston while Derek Dorsett registered his second. Anders Nilsson, who posted a 32-save shutout in his first appearance of the season two days earlier against Ottawa, gave up four goals on 17 shots Thursday before giving way to Jacob Markstrom and his .901 save percentage.
ABOUT THE SABRES (1-4-2): Buffalo, which led the league in power-play percentage last season, registered three goals with the man advantage at Vegas after netting just a pair in 22 chances over the first six games of the season. Jason Pominville and Jack Eichel are tied for second on the team with nine points while Sam Reinhart has scored in each of his last two games after going without a point in the first five. Jacob Josefson (ankle) is questionable, Zemgus Girgensons (foot) is day-to-day and the status of Robin Lehner (illness) is uncertain after he reportedly missed practice on Thursday.
1. Vancouver notched a power-play goal Thursday but is just 4-for-31 with the man advantage in its first six games.
2. Buffalo RW Kyle Okposo, who has yet to post a point in five contests this season, is set to play his 500th NHL game on Friday.
3. The Canucks won both meetings last season and have beaten the Sabres three straight times overall.
PREDICTION: Sabres 4, Canucks 2