The Sabres host the San Jose Sharks today at 1 p.m. in Key Bank Center in the first of this season's five Saturday matinees. Buffalo is coming off Wednesday's 5-1 loss in Columbus but is gunning for its first two-game winning streak of the season at home in the wake of Tuesday's 1-0 shutout of Detroit.
Here are Five Things to Know about the Sabres-Sharks matchup:
1. Home dominance: Buffalo is an incredible 17-1-1 all-time against San Jose in Buffalo. The Sharks' lone regulation win here was a 5-0 victory on Dec. 2, 2005 in Joe Thornton's first game with the team after he was traded from Boston, and San Jose also posted a 2-1 overtime victory here on Nov. 14, 2015. That's been it. The Sabres rallied from a 4-1 deficit in last year's meeting in Buffalo, posting a 5-4 overtime victory on Evander Kane's goal.
2. In the nets: The Sabres are going with Robin Lehner in goal today while San Jose is going to rest starter Martin Jones and play backup Aaron Dell, who is 0-2 with a 2.59 goals-against average and .887 save percentage. Lehner is on a shutout string of 91 minutes, 35 seconds and needs to play 35:24 today without allowing a goal to match his career best of 126:59, set with Ottawa in 2014.
"He had a really strong game against Detroit and made some really key saves, especially in the second period," coach Phil Housley said today. "I thought our defense in the defensive zone collapsed really well. Not too many second chances and we're going to have to do that today."
Lehner should have some extra motivation today. His wife, Donya, gave birth to a baby girl Friday. They also have a son who turns 3 on Monday.
3. Birthday boy: Today is Jack Eichel's 21st birthday and the Sabres' co-leader in scoring will look to snap a mini-slump that has seen him collect just two points over the last four games. Eichel was a minus-2 in Columbus and played a season-low 16 minutes, 26 seconds. He has 11 points in 11 games this season (four goals, seven assists) but has a minus-5 rating.
4. Rest of the Buffalo lineup: Other than Lehner moving in goal for Chad Johnson, the Sabres are expected to field the same lineup they did Wednesday in Columbus. That would leave Matt Moulson and Taylor Fedun as healthy scratches. Housley said defenseman Justin Falk, who practiced Friday, skated again this morning but will not play today.
"Moving forward he'll be a day to day decision," Housley said. "It was certainly good to see him practice yesterday and get some ice in today. He's heading in the right direction."
5. Shark Tales: San Jose enters the game 4-5 after Thursday's 2-1 loss in Boston. This is the final game of a five-game roadie for the Sharks, who are 2-2 in the first four. The Sharks have eight of their next nine games at home, starting with what figures to be an emotional game Monday against Toronto as veteran Patrick Marleau returns to SAP Center for his first game as a visitor after playing 20 years in San Jose.
San Jose posted a 3-2 win over the Sabres in SAP Center on Oct. 12 and also beat Buffalo out West in March, 4-1. The Sharks are 10-21-7 all-time against Buffalo and a win today would give them their first three-game winning streak against the Sabres in their 26-year history.
Reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns, who had 29 goals last season, has not scored in his club's nine games this year and has a minus-7 rating.