DENVER — The Buffalo Sabres open the three-game Central Division portion of their road trip with a 9 p.m. contest Tuesday night against the Colorado Avalanche in the Pepsi Center (MSG, WGR Radio 550). The Sabres, of course, are mired in last place in the NHL's overall standing at 6-17-4 and have scored just one goal in their last four games. The Avalanche, meanwhile, are 12-11-2 and have dropped two straight, including a 7-2 drubbing here Sunday against Dallas.
Here are Five Things to Know about tonight's game:
1. Tough times in Denver: Playing at Mile High altitude hasn't been kind to the Sabres in recent years. Colorado has won the last six meetings here, with Buffalo going 0-4-2 since Dec. 4, 2005. The Avs are 11-2 in their last 13 meetings with Buffalo.
2. Lineup news: With newcomer Scott Wilson in the lineup, the Sabres are scratching Zemgus Girgensons tonight as as the former first-round pick continues to be pointless since Oct. 14 and has just a goal and two assists on the season. "When we're in this spell right now, we have to make some tough decisions," coach Phil Housley said today. "We're going to give some other guys an opportunity."
Justin Falk will be the healthy scratch on defense while Nathan Beaulieu will sit out with the flu. He's listed as day to day and could rejoin the club Friday in Chicago.
With Evan Rodrigues making his season debut centering Wilson, tonight's lines and defense pairings are:
3. Moulson has a new home: In case you missed it following the morning skate today, the Sabres announced they have loaned forward Matt Moulson to the Los Angeles Kings and he will play for the Ontario Reign of the AHL.
4. In the nets: Robin Lehner (5-12-2, 2.98/.903) will start in goal for the Sabres tonight and has stopped 115 of 122 shots by the Avs in his four games against them as a Sabre (.943). Semyon Varlamov (8-5-1, 3.09/.905) goes for the Avs. Varlamov is 6-1-1 in his career against Buffalo with solid numbers (2.37/.917). Lehner, meanwhile, is just 1-7-1 in his last nine decisions this season but the Sabres, of course, haven't scored a single goal for him in his last three starts.
5. Familiar faces: Former Sabres draft pick J.T. Compher (four goals, four assists) is playing on Colorado's top line tonight because Gabriel Landeskog is serving the final game of a four-game suspension. Defenseman Nikita Zadorov has three goals, two assists and a minus-7 rating in 20 games for the Avs.