LOS ANGELES -- Looking ahead to puck drop ...
Victor watch: The Sabres' lackluster performance on the power play Wednesday night has not changed Kings coach Todd McLellan's opinion: he's afraid of Buffalo's power play. After all, the Sabres have Victor Olofsson, one of the National Hockey League's top weapons on the man advantage.
Olofsson, a 24-year-old rookie winger, is tied with Edmonton's James Neal for the league lead in power-play goals with six. Olofsson also leads all rookies in goals (6) and points (8), and leads rookie forwards in ice time per game (18:10).
Since he made his NHL debut on March 28, 2019, against Detroit, no NHL player has scored more power-play goals than Olofsson’s eight in 13 games. He has set an NHL record by becoming the first player in NHL history to score each of his first seven-plus career goals with a man advantage.
"From what I’ve watched, he gets into that spot," McLellan said of Olofsson. "He has a sense of space and he has an idea of where he wants to put the puck, it looks like, before it arrives. A lot of guys, they’re picking their spot as the puck gets there. He seems to know where he wants to put it and it doesn’t take much for him to score. It’s refreshing for them, I’m sure, and good for our league to see a young player like that score. We just hope he doesn’t do it tonight."
Kings' lineup: Los Angeles is expected to start Jack Campbell in goal, but the Kings did not perform line rushes during their morning skate Thursday at their practice facility in El Segundo, Calif. Winger Alex Iafallo, an Eden native, is expected to skate on the top line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown.
The Kings have scored eight first-period goals this season but have a combined negative-10 goal differential in the second and third periods.
Sabres' lineup: Coach Ralph Krueger did not hold a morning skate on the second day of a back-to-back. Carter Hutton, who is 4-0 with a .931 save percentage, is expected to start in goal. Winger Conor Sheary (upper body) could be a game-time decision after skating on his own Wednesday morning in Anaheim.
Krueger also put his forward lines and defense pairings in a blender during the third period of the 5-2 loss to the Ducks. However, Krueger expressed confidence in the lineup he used and told the media he planned to evaluate ahead of the Sabres' matchup with the Kings.
Krueger is expected to address the media Thursday at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Here is how the Sabres lined up Wednesday in Anaheim.
Sabres' lines/pairings in Anaheim:
Ullmark in goal
— Lance Lysowski (@LLysowski) October 17, 2019
Response: The Sabres were clearly frustrated by the Ducks' physicality. Anaheim's late hits led to a number of skirmishes and, ultimately, resulted in a fine for winger Nick Ritchie. The Sabres, though, didn't say much about the Ducks' antics during postgame interviews.
Instead, Jack Eichel lamented about the missed opportunities on the power play. The Sabres went 0-for-7 following Olofsson's first-period goal. The Ducks pressured the puck and clearly made Buffalo uncomfortable, particularly Rasmus Dahlin, who was replaced on the top unit by Colin Miller in the third period.
Still, McLellan is impressed with what he's seen from Krueger's group.
"They’re a team that is playing with a lot of confidence," McLellan said. "They look like a refreshed group. Their power play has been deadly, so they take advantage of that, and even if they aren’t scoring, they gain a lot of momentum from it. Have been getting real solid goaltending, so any type of mistake that’s been made, they’ve been able to get the save that they need. I think their rebuilt back end has been a big part of their resurgence. They are a team that deserves to be where they’re at and they’ll push us in every aspect tonight."