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Sabres at Sharks: Five Things to Know

SAN JOSE -- Get ready to lose some sleep this week with some late-night hockey from the Golden State. Tuesday night in SAP Center, the Sabres' road trip opens with a matchup against the San Jose Sharks.

Faceoff is shortly after 10:30 p.m. Eastern time on MSG with Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray on the call. I'll have full coverage on Twitter and at the [BN] Hockey section of Buffalonews.com.

Here are Five Things to Know about the game:

1. The lineups: Robin Lehner (19-20-8, 2.66/.921) will be in goal against San Jose's Martin Jones (31-17-6, 2.27/.916). Coach Dan Bylsma said the Sabres will have the same lineup as they did in Saturday's comeback win over Columbus. Hudson Fasching, who was called up Monday from Rochester, is expected to be a healthy scratch.

2. Utter domination of the Sharks: That's the only way to describe this series. The Sabres lead it all-time, 24-6-6. They're 10-0-1 in the last 11 meetings and have won five straight here. The Sharks haven't beaten Buffalo in regulation since a 3-1 win here on Feb. 13, 2010 and haven't won in Buffalo in regulation since 2005. The Sabres wiped out  a 4-1 deficit in the final 11 minutes to post a 5-4 overtime win over San Jose last month in KeyBank Center.

"These guys are a great team and there's nobody in the league that's going to argue that," Buffalo defenseman Cody Franson said after today's optional morning skate. "They went to the Cup final last year for a reason and we have to prepare accordingly. Regardless of the success we've had against them in the past years, we have to understand where we are and where they are."

Sabres Notebook: Reeling in Sharks has been easy fishing

3. Burns is full of Hart: San Jose defenseman Brent Burns has put together a monster season that makes him a bonafide MVP/Hart Trophy candidate with 27 goals, 43 assists and 70 points. He's five points off the NHL scoring lead but is now in his first prolonged slump of the season with no goals in the last nine games.

"He's a bit of a hybrid player defenseman/rover/forward," Bylsma said today. "Trying to nail him down on the ice is a futile proposition for anybody. His shot is no different. He shoots the one-timer ... walks the middle and finds seams in lanes to find guys sticks, he's got the one-timer on the power play where he slides over to shoot the one-timer ala Ovechkin. It's not just saying, 'This guy delivers a fastball and we can look for it down the middle' He does it a ton of different ways."

4. Power play numbers: They're not what you'd expect from a Buffalo team out of the playoffs against a Pacific Division-leading team eyeing a return to the Cup final. The Sabres lead the league at 23.7 percent while the Sharks are just 25th at 16.5 percent.

The Sabres' two power-play goals keyed Saturday's win over Columbus, including Evander Kane's decisive goal with 2:29 left. Buffalo is 8 for 22 over the last six games. Meanwhile, the Sharks are 0 for 9 in the last two games and just 2 for 24 in the last seven. But the San Jose penalty killers are 9 for 9 in the first three games of their current six-game homestand.

5. Red-hot team, red-hot captain: The Sharks are 16-4-5 since Jan. 16, the fewest regulation losses in the league in that stretch. San Jose's Joe Pavelski was named the NHL's First Star of the Week for the period ending Sunday after collecting five goals and an assist in four games. He had two goals in Sunday's 5-1 destruction of Dallas. He has 26 goals, 35 assists and 61 points, second on the team to Burns in goals and points and third in assists (Joe Thornton has 39).

 

 

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