SAN JOSE – It's Game 3 of the Buffalo Sabres' jaunt through the West Coast tonight in SAP Center, much more commonly known as the "Shark Tank." The Sabres and San Jose Sharks will face off just after 10:30 p.m. EST, with the game broadcast as usual on MSG and WGR Radio 550.
The Sabres enter the game 3-3 and coming off Tuesday's dreary 4-1 loss in Vegas. San Jose is in a virtually identical spot as Vegas was: The Sharks (2-3-1) will be playing just their second home game of the season and coming off a five-game Eastern trip. San Jose went 2-2-1 on its swing while Vegas was 2-3.
Here are Five (other) Things to Know about tonight's game:
1. Surprise scratch: Center Patrik Berglund will not play tonight and even though coach Phil Housley said Wednesday that the veteran was banged up some, it's clear the move was made because Berglund remains without a goal and badly dropped coverage on Jonathan Marchessault's power-play goal that opened the scoring Tuesday in Vegas. See No. 10's futile late dive here:
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) October 17, 2018
"I don't know if it's disturbing. There's other things that led up to the decision," Housley said. "We have extra players. We have four games in six nights. We're just looking at it on a game-by-game, day-by-day basis. We had to make a decision. We lost a hockey game, so Patrik is coming out and Remi Elie is getting in."
Berglund and fellow scratches Johan Larsson and Casey Nelson were the only players who skated today along with backup goaltender Linus Ullmark.
No morning skate. So my expectation on #Sabres lineup is this:
Goal: Hutton. Scratches: Berglund, Larsson, Nelson
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) October 18, 2018
2. Shark hunting: The Sabres are 24-9-6 all-time against San Jose and have never lost four in a row to the Sharks since San Jose entered the NHL in 1992 – but that could happen if the Sharks win tonight. Until this three-game losing streak, the Sabres were 10-0-1 in their previous 11 games against San Jose.
San Jose won both meetings last year in October by 3-2 scores and the Sabres have not beaten them since a 5-4 overtime win on Feb. 7, 2017, in KeyBank Center. The OT scorer that night? Current Shark Evander Kane.
3. Offensive offense: The Sabres have just 12 goals in their six games – including only six in 5-on-5 play – but Berglund is far from the only player stuck at zero. Other names looking for their first goal of the season include Kyle Okposo, Sam Reinhart, Casey Mittelstadt, Rasmus Ristolainen, Evan Rodrigues and Tage Thompson.
"If you look throughout our lineup, we would like to get 5-on-5 scoring and it has to come almost by community," Housley said.
4. Sabre points: Goalie Carter Hutton is 2-3, 3.10/.909 for the season but 4-1-1/1.32/.955 in his career against San Jose. ... Buffalo is 4 for 24 on the power play, including 1 for 9 on the road. The Sabres are 4 for 9 in the three wins – and 0 for 15 in their three losses. ... San Jose assistant Dave Barr was on Dan Bylsma's staff with the Sabres in 2015-16. ... When Jack Eichel played for Team North America in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer was one of the club's assistants.
5. Shark tales: Struggling starter Martin Jones (1-3, 3.05, .880) will be in goal tonight. ... San Jose is 28th in the NHL on the power play at just 2 for 21. ... The Sharks are second in the league in shots for per game (38.5) and second in shot differential (plus-11.5) ... Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic will play in his 900th NHL game. Center Joe Thornton (knee infection) remains out. He's currently tied with Housley for 20th on the NHL's all-time game's played list (1,495).