It’s an interconference clash on the ice out in the Golden State as a pair of teams looking for a win do battle. The Buffalo Sabres are on the road as they travel to face the Anaheim Ducks Thursday night. Buffalo dropped Tampa Bay 5-1 at home Monday night in their most recent contest. Anaheim came up on the short end of a 4-3 score at home against Winnipeg Tuesday night in their previous game. The Ducks own a 5-4-1 advantage in the last 10 meetings and have won the last two. That includes a 3-2 road victory in the most recent matchup between the teams on February 9, 2020. These teams didn’t meet last season in the all-divisional format.
Buffalo Sabres Trying to Continue Strong StartBuffalo snapped a two-game slide as they picked up a victory over the two-time defending champion Lightning on home ice Monday night. The Sabres look to continue their early-season success for coach Don Granato as they head on the road for this contest. For the season, Buffalo is tied for 15th in offense as they are averaging three goals per game on the season. The Sabres are tied for second in the league in goals against as they allow 1.83 goals per contest this year. Buffalo is eighth in power play success as they cash in 27.8% of their chances with the man advantage. The Sabres are tied for sixth in the league in penalty killing as they successfully get through 87.5% of their shorthanded situations on the year.
On Monday night, the Sabres played tough in their own end and broke the game open in the late stages to put away a victory in front of a less than capacity crowd at home. Buffalo was outshot 14-9 in the opening period of play but skated off even at one on the scoreboard after the opening 20 minutes of action. Victor Olofsson opened the scoring with his first of the season at 1:41 off assists from Robert Hagg and Tage Thompson. The Sabres gave up the equalizer late in the stanza. In the second period, the Sabres were outshot 11-3 but outscored the Lightning 1-0 to take a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes of action. Drake Caggiula gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead with his first of the year at 19:22, unassisted, to send the team to the second intermission with momentum. The final period saw the Sabres with a 13-11 shot advantage and they outscored Tampa Bay 3-0 to put the game away. Vinnie Hinostroza made it a 3-1 game with his first of the year, unassisted, at 4:25 of the stanza. Hagg extended to a 4-1 advantage with his first of the season at 14:25 off an assist from Zemgus Girgensons. Olofsson closed the scoring with his second of the game and the season at 17:30 with assists going to Rasmus Asplund and Thompson. The final two goals were empty-net markers. Craig Anderson made 35 saves for the Sabres, who were outshot 36-25, in the victory. He’s expected to get the start in goal again for this contest.
Anaheim Ducks Hoping to Earn Win in Close GameAnaheim lost their fourth straight and dropped to 1-4-1 in their last six games after winning their opener as they fell at home against Winnipeg Tuesday. The Ducks look to find a way to win a one-goal game as they are 1-3-1 in those situations this season. Anaheim is tied for 17th in the league in goals per game as they average 2.86 goals per contest. The Ducks are tied for 24th in the league in goals-against as they allow an average of 3.43 goals a night. Anaheim is 7th in power play success as they cash in on 28.6% of their chances with the man advantage on the year. The Ducks are 13th in the league in the penalty killing department as they successfully navigate 84.6% of their shorthanded situations on the year.
Against Winnipeg, the Ducks let one slip away in the final stanza to wind up with a tough loss. The opening period saw the Ducks with a 13-6 advantage in shots on goal though neither side lit the lamp, leaving the game scoreless after 20 minutes of play. In the second period, Anaheim held a 15-10 edge in shots on goal with each team scoring once to leave the game even after two periods of play. After falling behind 1-0, Sonny Milano tied the game with his first of the year at 5:04 off an assist from Trevor Zegras. In the third period, the Ducks were outshot 9-7 and outscored 3-2 to wind up with the loss. Josh Manson scored his first goal of the season at 1:39 off assists from Isac Lundestrom and Troy Terry to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead. After giving up the equalizer, Zegras gave Anaheim a 3-2 advantage off an assist from Milano at 12:15. It looked like that would hold up but the Ducks surrendered two goals in 19 seconds in the final two minutes of regulation to wind up with the loss. John Gibson made 21 saves for the Ducks, who held a 35-25 advantage in shots on goal, in the loss. He’s projected to be back in net for this contest.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Anaheim has played tough but they have struggled in one-goal games this season, which is a major problem since you’re not going to have a ton of blowouts. The Ducks have struggled over recent years to put the puck in the net and that is something that they are trying to address. Both teams are young clubs with a lot of pieces trying to fit in the equation. Buffalo has started strong in the first couple of weeks of the season as Granato has gotten his team to play hard and battle as opposed to failing to show up as we saw under Ralph Krueger in the first half of last season. The Sabres have grit and character, which is a rarity for them. Anaheim wilts under pressure again and that’s the difference in the game as Buffalo steals two points on the road.
Full-Game Total Pick
Buffalo has seen the under post a 3-1-2 mark on the season despite a goaltending pairing of Anderson and Dustin Tokarski. The Sabres are second in goals against this season, which is a major plus for a team that struggled in that department last season. Buffalo sees an average of 4.83 goals per game, a number that plummets to three goals per game in their road contests. Anaheim has seen the over hit in four of their seven games so far this year. The Ducks see an average of 6.29 goals per game overall. That number slips down to an even five goals a game on home ice. We’ve seen the under hit in six of the last 10 meetings between the teams. With Anaheim still inconsistent offensively and Buffalo playing tough in their own end coupled with solid goaltending, this one ends up short of the total.