Buffalo has been mired in what has seemed like a month-long slump that has seen them lose 13 of their last 17 games. The Sabres tumble down the Eastern Conference standings has dropped them to fourth place in the Atlantic Division with 31 points in 29 contests this season. Meanwhile, the Canucks are also in fourth place in the Pacific Division standings with 32 points in 29 games. Can Vancouver get back on the winning track against a struggling Sabres team on Saturday?
Sabres power play goes cold vs. FlamesThe Sabres were unable to sustain their momentum on Thursday night, falling on the road 4-3 against the Flames in Calgary. Linus Ullmark made 25 saves while Sam Reinhart, Jake McCabe, and Jack Eichel all scored goals for the Sabres, who went 1-for-8 on the power play and gave up a shorthanded goal in the loss.
Jack Eichel is great but Rick Jeanneret is elitepic.twitter.com/z5jzENf8Xe— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) November 29, 2019
Eichel has been elite for the Sabres this season, posting a team-high 39 points with 18 goals and 21 assists in 29 games. However, defensive zone errors continue to plague the Sabres, especially on the penalty kill. The Sabres have fended off only 74.2 percent of their total penalties for the season, which ranks 30th in the NHL.
Carter Hutton is expected to guard the cage for the Sabres on Saturday night. He comes in with a 6-5-3 overall record to go along with a 2.84 GAA and .908 save percentage in 14 starts this season. The 33-year-old struggled during the month of November, posting a .882 save percentage and he comes into the weekend riding a personal eight-game losing streak. Hutton won his only start against Vancouver last year, allowing just three goals in 39 shots on the night.
Canucks getting healthy ahead of matchup vs. SabresVancouver used a four-goal first period to escape with a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night. Antoine Rousel scored in his first game back while Tanner Pearson and Elias Pettersson also scored for the Canucks, who continue to have success with backup Thatcher Demko patrolling the crease. Demko stopped 40 of 42 shots and Adam Gaudette finished with two assists to help Vancouver earn its fourth win in seven games.
You reach, I teach - Elias Pettersson (probably) pic.twitter.com/ikEGgvIzPc— Harman Dayal (@harmandayal2) November 9, 2019
After getting Rousel back on Tuesday, more reinforcements could be on the way for Vancouver. Three players are expected to return to the ice for Saturday’s matinee against the Sabres. Michael Ferland, Brandon Sutter, and Jay Beagle all participated in line rushes on Friday and all three could return to action this weekend. All three players missed the month of November with various injuries.
Jacob Markstrom is scheduled to be back between the pipes for the Canucks on Saturday afternoon. The 29-year-old has been away from the team after he was granted a leave of absence to attend his father’s memorial service. The 29-year-old is off to a strong start to the season, going 8-7-3 with a 2.70 GAA and .913 save percentage in 18 starts. Markstrom lost his only start against the Sabres in overtime last season despite making 34 saves on 37 shots.
- Sabres are 14-37 in their last 51 road games.
- Sabres are 1-4 in their last 5 vs. a team with a losing record.
- Sabres are 0-5 in their last 5 vs. Western Conference.
- Canucks are 9-0 in their last 9 vs. Atlantic