SAN JOSE -- Through playoff years, tanking years and now rebuilding years, the Buffalo Sabres have been just about automatic against the San Jose Sharks since the 2005 NHL lockout.
The height of head-shaking wins might have come Feb. 7 in Buffalo, when the Sabres wiped out a 4-1 deficit in the third period and beat the Sharks, 5-4, on Evander Kane's overtime goal. That put the Sabres at 10-0-1 against San Jose in its last 11 decisions.
The teams meet again here Tuesday in SAP Center, where the Sabres have won five straight -- and have either blanked the Sharks or held them to one goal in four of the games. But after the last meeting, you have to figure the defending Western Conference champions are going to try to come out blazing.
"We stole two points from them the last time, just stole them," winger Marcus Foligno admitted after practice Monday on the Sharks' home ice. "You know they're bringing that game up and want some revenge. You know they will be ready from puck drop."
In discussions over his two years, coach Dan Bylsma has often been amazed by some of the bizarre head-to-head series the Sabres have forged against the West. The Los Angeles Kings, for instance, have lost eight straight games in Buffalo dating to 2003 -- but have posted three straight 2-0 win over the Sabres in Staples Center, where the teams will meet Thursday night.
"We have some weird history with the West Coast teams, with them in our building or us in theirs," Bylsma said. "I don't believe in any of that but it sure seems to play out."
The San Jose dominance is particularly odd given the Sharks' perennial runs to the postseason that have included berths in the Western Conference final in 2010 and 2011 and the Stanley Cup final against Pittsburgh last June. The Sabres won here last year, 3-1, as goaltender Chad Johnson blanked the Sharks over the final 58 minutes and Buffalo snapped a tie with a pair of third-period goals.
"I just feel like you get that confidence against a team and it keeps going and going," Foligno said. "Even in that game at home, it just didn't feel like we were out of it ever. And in this building, we always seem to play a good road game. We score at critical times, late in periods. We get saves, we shut down their top players. We're looking forward for more of that."
Looking to have an extra forward on hand for the trip, the Sabres called up winger Hudson Fasching from Rochester. In 25 games for the Amerks this season, Fasching has six goals, two assists and a minus-12 rating. The 21-year-old opened the season with the Sabres, collecting no points in six games and then left with a groin injury Oct. 30 in Winnipeg.
After getting cleared to play, Fasching was sent to Rochester and practiced twice before the injury became too difficult to play through. MRIs showed damage and Fasching sat nearly three months. Bylsma said it's pretty certain Fasching will see action on this trip, likely either in Los Angeles on Thursday or Anaheim on Friday. Fasching skated as an extra forward here Monday.
"It's been a fairly long process for him and he's probably still in that process," Bylsma sid. "I'd like to see Hudson get up and get some games. We needed someone for the West Coast trip and Hudson is going to get that opportunity."
"That's part of the learning process of being pro. There's adversity that goes with it," Fasching said. "Injuries happen. It's learning to be mentally tough through a major injury and coming back. I'm just here and happy to be here. If I get the opportunity, I"ll try to make the most of it."
Foligno said he apologized to Columbus winger Cam Atkinson following Saturday's 5-3 win over the Blue Jackets, a game that saw Foligno accidentally step on Atkinson's shoulder and cause a dangerous 17-stitch cut with his skate blade.
The incident happened as Foligno rushed into the corner after what he felt was a hit from behind by Columbus' Brandon Dubinsky on Sabres winger Tyler Ennis, who has a recent history of concussions.
"I just came in there pretty furious. I should have let up a bit probably but I never really checked or finished Atkinson," Foligno said. "I went over top of him. He fell on the ground and before I know it I was trying to grab Dubinsky and that's how it happened. You're thankful it's not serious and you didn't catch him in the neck or the face."
Foligno said he talked briefly to his older brother, Nick, like he does after each Sabres-Blue Jackets game. The Foligno brothers had one shoving match during the game as the final 30 minutes grew particularly ornery on the second half of a back-to-back between the teams.
"I think he was a little bit ticked off after last game," Foligno said with a smile. "It was a quick couple minutes and he had to get his flight. But I'm always texting with him. And from a family perspective it was a 50-50 split of the series so that's probably good for everybody."
The Sabres added a free agent college defenseman late last season in Minnesota State's Casey Nelson, who has spent the bulk of this year in Rochester, and are reportedly in line to add another. TSN reported Monday that St. Lawrence's Gavin Bayreuther may sign as soon as Tuesday and that Buffalo is battling for his services along with Dallas, New Jersey and Colorado.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Bayreuther is a left-handed shot and is second in the nation this year among defensemen in points per game at 0.97 (29 points in 30 games) He had eight goals while leading the team in assists (21) and points, and also had a plus-9 rating.