LOS ANGELES -- The Sabres' week-long tour of California ends here tonight and it will be an extra wait for the road trip finale against the Los Angeles Kings in Staples Center. Faceoff is not until 8 p.m. local time -- or 11 p.m. back in Buffalo. The reason? What's always the reason? Television.
8 pm start time tonight....to keep clear of the exclusive 3 hour NBC prime time outdoor game window in Colorado; #NHL
— LAKingsPR (@LAKingsPR) February 27, 2016
It will be a matchup of Swedes in goal as Robin Lehner gets back in the net for Buffalo against old friend Jhonas Enroth. Lehner had started five straight games until Johnson got the call in San Jose; Enroth is giving Jonathan Quick a night off after five straight starts with the Kings having a game in Anaheim on Sunday.
Enroth is 4-5-1 for the Kings this year but has a 2.19 goals-against average and .926 save percentage. The overtime loss came Dec. 12 in Buffalo, when he suffered a 2-1 defeat on Ryan O'Reilly's highlight reel goal in the extra session.
As of this writing (heading into the 4 p.m. hour Eastern time), there's nothing new on the Sabres trade front. The team had a meeting only at the arena today and did not skate.
Goaltender Chad Johnson, who beat San Jose last night and then said after he just wants this week of rumors to end, will not be going to the Sharks to back up Martin Jones. This afternoon, San Jose acquired James Reimer from Toronto in a four-player deal. Nothing new on the Jamie McGinn front either although the Florida Panthers, one team believed to have interest, augmented their forward ranks by getting Jiri Hudler from Calgary.
As for tonight's game, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma was cautious about overworking any of his players in San Jose and still came out with a victory. Defensive stalwarts Rasmus Ristolainen (23:37) and Zach Bogosian (22:13) weren't overworked as Byslma got 14:25 from Carlo Colaiacovo, his biggest contribution since Dec. 7. Evander Kane (20:57) was the only forward over 20 minutes.
"We did a pretty good job last night of being able to use everybody, roll four lines and not tax too many people," Bylsma said. "We weren't up by a lot in that game for very long but in the third period I think we used everybody. We certainly made some decisions last night knowing we'd be playing back to back and playing three in four nights. It got a lot of guys a chance to play."
The Kings have won three straight -- all by 2-1 scores -- after a 4-7-1 stretch that allowed Anaheim to close on them in the Pacific Division. LA had a 12-point lead on Jan. 20 that has been as small as two points in recent days.
Point to note: The last 11 meetings between these two teams have been won by the home teams (not counting Buffalo's 2011 win in Berlin, Germany when it was listed as the visiting team). The last time one of these teams won in the other's arena was a 5-1 Sabres victory here on Oct. 23, 2003. That is the Sabres' only victory here since 1996.