The San Jose Sharks try for a winning road trip when they complete a five-game trek Saturday afternoon against the Buffalo Sabres. San Jose fell to 2-2-0 with a 2-1 loss in Boston on Thursday, when Joe Thornton scored to move into a tie for 20th on the NHL’s all-time points list at 1,398 with Hall of Famer Jari Kurri and extended his point streak to five games (two goals, four assists).
“That’s amazing,” teammate Kevin Labanc told reporters about Thornton. “He knows what it takes. He knows the ins and outs: what you should do when you get to the rink, what you should do when you leave the rink. It’s 24/7. It’s a never-ending process. And if you want to have a career like his, if you want to get as many points as him, you better follow his lead, that’s for sure.” Buffalo had its first winning streak of the season (two games) snapped with a 5-1 loss in Columbus on Wednesday and continues to struggle at both ends of the ice. The Sabres entered Friday allowing the sixth-most goals in the NHL (3.64) while scoring the fifth-fewest at 2.45 per game and possessing the fifth-worst power play at 13.5 percent. San Jose won the two-game season series opener 3-2 on Oct. 12 as Timo Meier and Chris Tierney recorded a goal and an assist apiece while Jason Pominville scored both Buffalo goals.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, Sportsnet, NBCSN California (San Jose), MSG Buffalo
ABOUT THE SHARKS (4-5-0): San Jose was counting on Meier, a second-year forward, to help fill the void left by departed free agent Patrick Marleau, but the 21-year-old has only one goal and one assist in eight games, and was a healthy scratch in Monday’s 4-1 loss to the Rangers. “I have a high bar for Timo - I think Timo can be a difference maker, so we’re not going to settle. We’re going to push for that,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer told The Mercury News. Logan Couture boasts club highs with seven goals - four on the road trip - and 10 points with Thornton second with seven points.
ABOUT THE SABRES (3-6-2): Evander Kane (team-high six goals), Jack Eichel (club-most seven assists) and Pominville share the team lead with 11 points but none hit the scoresheet in the last two games, including a 1-0 victory over Detroit on Tuesday. Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu has missed the last three games with an upper-body injury (two assists, 18:31 average ice time in eight games). Zemgus Girgensons (goal, two assists in eight games) returned Wednesday after missing three games with a lower-body injury.
1. San Jose D Brett Burns, who recorded 29 goals in 2016-17 en route to winning the Norris Trophy, hasn’t scored this season and is a club-worst minus-7.
2. Kane matched a season low with one shot Wednesday - he also had one versus the Sharks - but leads the NHL with 55 through Thursday.
3. Entering Friday, San Jose was one of four teams (Dallas, Nashville, Toronto) with both special-teams units in the top 10. San Jose’s power play is clicking at 21.6 percent, but is 2-for-16 on the road trip.
PREDICTION: Sharks 3, Sabres 2