LAS VEGAS – The Buffalo Sabres play Game 2 of their Western roadie Tuesday night at 10 against the Vegas Golden Knights (MSG, WGR Radio) and it's a chance to sweep a team that played in the Stanley Cup final last season. It's also a chance to improve to 4-2 – and go two games over .500 for the first time since December 2011.
Yes, baby steps here.
Here are Five Things to Know about tonight's game:
1. Bogo is back: Defenseman Zach Bogosian, who has been out since Sept. 25 with a groin injury – and hasn't played an NHL regular season game since January due to hip surgery – will make his season debut. Bogosian was paired with Nathan Beaulieu at today's morning skate. Casey Nelson will sit as a healthy scratch. There were no other surprises in the lineup. Center Patrik Berglund is playing his 700th career NHL game.
"It's exciting," Bogosian said. "It's not the start how I wanted things to go after coming off surgery but I'm looking forward to getting back. I'm feeling good in practice. Games are a different story I know. The last week I've come a long way in terms of how much intensity the skates have been. I'm looking forward to being back with the boys."
"Before he got injured, he was a very powerful skater and powerful player in addition to all the intangibles he brings being a team leader and trying to foster our young guys," coach Phil Housley said. "Obviously, his experience and knowledge in our lineup is going to be great. I'm just happy for him. He's battled through a lot of tough situations."
Remi Elie and Johan Larsson will sit as healthy scratches. Matt Tennyson was returned to Rochester to make room for Bogosian.
No other surprises for #Sabres: Sheary-Eichel-Reinhart, Skinner-Mittelstadt-Okposo, Sobotka-Berglund-Thompson, Girgensons-ERod-Pominville
Scandella-Ristolainen, McCabe-Dahlin, Bogosian-Beaulieu.
Who plays goal? I'm guessing Hutton, who made 35 saves. vs. VGK in BUF.
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) October 16, 2018
2. Best against the West: The Sabres are 6-0-1 in their last seven road games against the Pacific Division. They have won five straight – including three in a row by shutout. A win tonight would give them their first six-game road winning streak ever against the Western/Campbell Conference. An overtime loss would produce their first six-game road point streak against the West since they went 6-0-1 from Dec. 28, 2010, to Oct. 8, 2011.
3. Shot power: The Sabres continue to work on generating more shots on goal but it will be a chore against a Vegas team that's very good at shot suppression, even with a 2-4 record. Buffalo was outshot, 36-23, during Saturday's 3-0 win at Arizona and is minus-41 in shots on goal during its five games. Conversely, Vegas is plus-44. The Golden Knights outshot Buffalo, 37-17, during the Sabres' 4-2 win last week in KeyBank Center but were stymied by Carter Hutton's 35 saves.
4. Flower in the cage: That was how Dan Bylsma used to announce the starting lineup to his team in Pittsburgh. It meant that Marc-Andre Fleury was in goal, and that's the case for Vegas tonight. Fleury is coming off a 26-save shutout in Saturday's 1-0 win over Philadelphia but has just a 3.08 goals-against average and .880 save percentage on the season. Fleury is 21-6-3/2.12/.923 in his career against Buffalo.
5. Vegas update: Paul Stastny (leg) is out for two months while stay-at-home defense stalwart Deryk Engelland (undisclosed) is also injured and will miss tonight. The Golden Knights are playing just their second home game of the season and starting a five-game stand. They went 2-3 on their trip. Center William Karlsson, an unheralded 43-goal man last season, has yet to score in the first six games.
"We're well aware that win in Philadelphia meant a lot to them and could resurrect their season," Housley said. "Our mental frame of mind is that we've got to be up to speed right away because they're going to establish their forecheck."