The Buffalo Sabres look to build on their exciting 5-4 overtime win over San Jose when they host the Anaheim Ducks at 7 p.m. Thursday in KeyBank Center. But the Sabres will have a different look as they face their second Western Conference team this week. Here's what you need to know:
1. There will be lineup changes. The Sabres recalled forwards Derek Grant and Evan Rodrigues from Rochester. Dan Bylsma said Zemgus Girgensons would be out while Evander Kane is a game-time decision.
"It’s more of a day-to-day, full-body injury, mid-body injury is probably where it’s best described at now," Bylsma said about Girgensons. "Hopefully no more than day to day but we’ll see on that. Evander obviously went into the boards hard, strong enough that we called up two guys on emergency of the possibility of them both not playing."
For more on Kane's status, check out the post by Mike Harrington.
Byslma said that Justin Falk would be part of the team's six-man defensive unit and that Robin Lehner would start in goal.
2. Grant's return. It's been quite a month for the center who was placed on waivers by the Sabres and claimed by Nashville on Jan. 11. He played six games with the Predators before they put him on waivers. The Sabres reclaimed him on Feb. 6 and assigned him to Rochester on Sunday. He practiced with the Amerks before getting recalled to Buffalo.
"Obviously when you get put on waivers it sucks. When you get claimed it’s a good feeling in a sense that I know I’m an NHL player and someone else thought the same thing," Grant said. "It’s a good opportunity to come back. Obviously they are short on centers right now. I want to step in and do what I was doing before but take it to the next level as well."
3. The Sabres have been pretty darn good at home. Buffalo has gone 6-0-1 in its last seven home games, marking the team's longest home point streak since the team went 6-0-2 in eight home games from Dec. 10, 2013 to Jan. 9, 2014.
It gets even better when looking at Western Conference opponents. The Sabre are 12-1-3 in their last 16 home games against the West. In their last 16 home games against teams from the Pacific Division, the Sabre are 13-0-3, lasting losing in regulation to the Edmonton Oilers, 3-2, on Nov. 7, 2014.
4. Hot players at home. Ryan O'Reilly has 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in his last 12 games in KeyBank Center. Sam Reinhart has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his last 11 while Jack Eichel has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 15 home games including six multi-point outings.
5. Anaheim has been hot since Christmas. The Ducks have gone 11-5-4 since the holiday break, ranked fourth among the league leaders in points (26) and tied for fourth in wins. If the Sabres are looking for another third-period goal outbreak, they will have to buck the Ducks trend - they are allowing the fewest third-period goals in the league since Christmas.
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle was not with the Ducks for their morning skate in KeyBank Center Thursday. He was reportedly back at the team hotel ill. It is expected he will be behind the bench for the game.