Sabres vs. Ducks: Five Things to Know - The Buffalo News

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Sabres vs. Ducks: Five Things to Know

ANAHEIM -- The Western portion of the Sabres road trip concludes tonight in Honda Center with a 10 p.m. game against the Anaheim Ducks on MSG. The Ducks have won two straight and are 4-1 in their last five. The Sabres, of course, have dropped both games so far on their California trip and are 2-8-2 in their last 12.

The Sabres did not have a morning skate and coach Dan Bylsma met the media this evening at about 7:45 Eastern time. In the wake of that chat, here are Five Things to Know:

Backups get the call: The Sabres will go with Anders Nilsson (9-9-4, 2.84/.917) in goal after Robin Lehner played the first two games on the trip. Jonathan Bernier (14-7-2, 2.62/.913) goes for Anaheim. Nilsson's last outing saw him get yanked after giving up three goals in the first period last Saturday against Columbus. He's 0-6-1 in his last seven games on the road.

"It's a little bit of a bounceback game for Anders getting him into tonight," Bylsma said. "For the most part, he's been solid when he's gotten his opportunity. That wasn't the way it was the last time out. I'm looking for him to get in there, be solid for us by making the necessary save and give us a chance to win."

Bylsma said the rest of the lineup would be a gametime call, meaning Justin Bailey could sneak back into the forward rotation after  Bernier, playing for the injured John Gibson, is the NHL's reigning Second Star of the week.

Road not taken: The Sabres have dropped six straight road games, scoring just 12 goals in them. It gets worse. After opening the season 4-1-2 away from KeyBank Center, they're just 7-18-4 in their last 29 road games. The overall record of 11-19-6 is far below last year's 19-17-5.

"We haven't been able to get run support for our goaltenders, get the necessary goals to win hockey games," Bylsma said. "We haven't done a good job of playing a simple road game, a hard road game where we've had the lead to close games out."

The Sabres have not scored in the last 118 minutes, 50 seconds. Jack Eichel's goal 1:10 into Tuesday's game in San Jose is the only goal thus far on the trip.

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Tough defense to crack: The Ducks are 19-11-4 since Christmas and lead the NHL in fewest goals allowed (75). Their 90.1 percent rate on the penalty kill since that stretch leads the league.

On the Duck Pond: The Sabres are just 1-6 in the seven games here since the 2005 NHL lockout and Anaheim has won the last three, including a 1-0 victory here last season.  The Ducks posted a 5-2 win in Buffalo on Feb. 9.

Going West/Going East: This is Buffalo's final game of the season against the Western Conference. The Sabres are 13-11-3 against the West, including 6-6-1 vs. the Pacific Division. The Ducks are 15-10-5 against the East and 9-4-2 against the Atlantic.

 

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