EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Sabres open their three-game Western Canada trek tonight in Edmonton and it's an early start out here of 6 p.m. local time. That means an 8 p.m. start Buffalo time on MSG and no morning skate today (teams generally don't take the ice if the game goes earlier than 7 p.m. local time).
The game in Rexall Place will mark Buffalo's final visit to one of the NHL's most spartan arenas, but a place where eons of hockey history was made in the 1980s during Wayne Gretzky's heyday. Rexall, located in a neighborhood away from downtown, is being replaced by the gleaming new Rogers Place smack in the heart of the city next season. And just like Buffalo is proud to promote Canalside as its new entertainment hub, Edmonton's arena will be the focal point of an area it's dubbing the Ice District.
(There's some great photos and videos at the links in the preceeding paragraph. Totally worth your time.).
As for tonight's game, the Sabres barely needed a plane to get out here because they're so high right now. Buffalo is 3-0-1 in its last four games and has scored 17 goals in them. At 11-12-3, the Sabres could get back to a point a game (27 points in 27 contests) with a win tonight. If they get at least one point, it will be their first five-game point streak since going 7-0-2 from March 10-27, 2012.
The Sabres have scored 4+ goals in four straight games and haven't done that in five in a row in the same season since Feb. 20-March 2, 2007.
Edmonton, meanwhile, came off a dismal 1-3-1 road trip to post an shootout win here Wednesday over Boston and an overtime win here Friday against Dallas. But at 10-15-2, the Connor McDavid-less Oilers are still languishing near the bottom of the NHL, as my Inside the NHL column in today's editions discusses.
Here's a look at more items of note surrounding tonight's game:
---The red-hot Evander Kane has three straight two-point games for the first time since January, 2013. He'll be going for his first four-game point streak since Feb. 12-26, 2013 and if he gets more than one point, it will mark the first time in his career he's logged four straight multi-point outings.
---Jamie McGinn is looking to tie his career-best point streak of five games, set in March, 2014 with San Jose. It's a pretty solid comeback from back surgery for McGinn, as John Vogl discusses in today's editions.
---Why in the world does Brian Gionta get all the ice time he does? I've asked the same question. Plenty of you did too. Vogl has some theories in his periodic Sabres mailbag.
---Cal O'Reilly was called up Saturday from Rochester and alternated on the fourth line in practice Saturday. If he plays tonight, Cal and Ryan would become just the second brother combo to play together with the Sabres since the Sauves (Bob and J.F.) did it on several occasions from 1980-1983.
---Neither team is much of a fast starter. The Sabres have led after one period just six times in 26 games (going 5-1) while the Oilers have led only seven times in 27 games (going 6-1). Buffalo is 9-1 when leading after two periods while Edmonton has led after 40 minutes just three times (going 3-0).
---If someone has a lead after two periods, remember this oddball number: Both teams are 2-10-2 when trailing after 40 minutes.
---Edmonton is 6-5-1 against the Eastern Conference but has been getting buried against the West (4-10-1). Buffalo is 8-8-1 vs. the East and 3-4-2 vs. the West.