Sabres at Sharks: Five Things to Know - The Buffalo News

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Sabres at Sharks: Five Things to Know

SAN JOSE -- The Sabres' West Coast trip opens Thursday night in SAP Center against the San Jose Sharks with a 10:30 game on MSG and WGR Radio. Rick Jeanneret is on the trip and will have the play-by-play along with Rob Ray.

The Sabres are 0-2-1 while the Sharks are 0-2 and trying to avoid going to 0-3 for the first time since the 1993-94 season.

Here are Five Things to Know about tonight's game:

1. Okposo is a question mark: Sabres winger Kyle Okposo did not take the morning skate, with coach Phil Housley saying the veteran was back in the hotel battling the flu. Okposo has no points and is a minus-6 thus far, and Housley said he will be re-evaluated this afternoon to see if he can play.

Matt Moulson took Okposo's spot on lines this morning and would likely sit if Okposo can play. The Sabres' lines this morning were:

Girgensons-Eichel-Pominville
Kane-O'Reilly-Moulson
Pouliot-Larsson-Reinhart
Nolan-Josefson-Griffith

On defense, it will be Scandella-Ristolainen, Beaulieu-Tennyson and Gorges-McCabe. Robin Lehner will start in goal against San Jose's Martin Jones.

2. Gorges makes his debut: Veteran defenseman Josh Gorges will make his season debut for Buffalo after sitting out the first three games as a healthy scratch. Gorges will pair with Jake McCabe while rookie Victor Antipin will sit out.

Gorges, 33, said the game looks easy watching from the press box so he didn't want to go into detail at what he's seen thus far. But he has an idea what he can add.

"It's just being verbal on the ice," he said. "This game is so fast today that the four guys who aren't touching the puck have to tell the one guy who is what to do so when he gets it, it's an easy, smart play and you make that guy look like a genius from what the other four guys are doing.

"If I can bring a little bit of that and help my partner out, help whoever is out on the ice, I'd like to think I can do that."

Antipin, the free-agent signee from the KHL, has no points and is minus-4 thus far.

"He does a terrific job using his feet," Housley said. "But I didn't see it as much in our second and third game. He's got to use that mobility to his advantage, take charge and want the puck."

3. Starting from the bottom: It's mega early in the season but the NHL's overall standing is already unkind to these two teams, as tonight's loser is going to be No. 31 -- as in dead last -- in the league.

The Sharks have lost both their games at home, a 5-3 defeat to Philadelphia on opening night and a 4-1 snoozer Saturday against Los Angeles that has left them in a bad mood all week

"I know this group. I know the character in there and I know no one was happy with their last game," said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. "We always respond to that in the right way. I'm not curious about it. I know what our reaction is going to be. We're going to roll out a good game."

4. Milestone Marker: Sabres winger Evander Kane plays in his 500th NHL game tonight, his 139th with the Sabres since being acquired from Winnipeg in February, 2015. Kane has four of the Sabres' seven goals thus far, and is tied for fifth in the league.

"My dad texted me and reminded me this was No. 500," Kane said. "With all the injuries and the lockout, it could almost be 700 but it's a good milestone to reach."

5. Shark Hunting: The Sabres are 24-9-4 all-time against the Sharks and 12-2-1 in their last 15. They had won five in a row at the Shark Tank before dropping a 4-1 decision here in March, the game most remembered for Jack Eichel's own-goal in the final minute of the second period.

"It's one of those teams that has given our franchise consistent trouble over the years," DeBoer said. "We're expecting that but we've got to plow through that. We've got a hungry group excited about putting a win up on the board. That's what we have to concentrate on, not on them."

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