Red-hot Sabres going for 10th straight win vs. San Jose
The Buffalo Sabres winning streak is reaching historic proportions.
The Sabres (16-6-2) return home for a game Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks (12-8-4). A win by the Sabres would give them 10 straight wins, which would match the club record set in 1983-84 and tied when Buffalo won its first 10 games of the 2006-07 season.
“I think during this streak you can look at it and see how many different heroes we’ve had,” Sabres captain Jack Eichel said. “There are guys stepping up in key situations.”
Everything was not so good with the Sharks Saturday night when they lost an away game 6-0 to the Vegas Golden Knights.
During the second period, San Jose’s Evander Kane received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, a 10-minute penalty for abuse of officials and a game misconduct after arguing a tripping call. Soon after, coach Pete DeBoer was ejected as well.
“You’re going to kick a guy out for arguing a call because emotions are high?” DeBoer said. “Have a feel for the game. I didn’t even swear. I just asked them, did that feel good kicking Evander out under these circumstances? That was enough, I guess — I guess he wanted another victim.”
After earning shutouts in two straight starts, backup Aaron Dell was given the start against the Golden Knights after stopping 19 shots in a 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Friday. Dell allowed six goals in 36 shots Saturday. Martin Jones figures to get the start in Buffalo.
“We weren’t good tonight,” DeBoer said. “Two of our last three games were shutouts. We were 4-1-1 on our last homestand. We had a bad night. It happens.”
Dell had little protection against Vegas. “I don’t think he could have done much (Saturday),” Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson said. “I don’t think we helped him out a lot.”
The game against Vegas started a segment of the schedule in which the Sharks will play 25 of 40 games on the road.
The Sabres, meanwhile, had a strong effort from their backup goaltender Linus Ullmark, who made 33 saves in his first start since Nov. 17. He made breakaway saves on Detroit’s Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin.
“You’ve got Linus stepping in and playing out of his mind, making some huge saves, bailing me out and bailing us out a few times,” said Eichel, who extended his points streak to six games with an assist Saturday. “You can’t say enough about him. We find a way to get two points again.”
Ullmark feels that playing so many close games recently have helped the Sabres keep things in perspective.
“For us it’s been a battle all the way to the end,” Ullmark said. “That’s what keeps us down to earth, because we know it’s a very tight league and you can’t just go and glide on some pink clouds up there in the sky and think that you’re going to win every night just because you’ve done it before.”
Carter Hutton likely will get the start in goal on Tuesday.
Sabres coach Phil Housley praised his team for enduring a tough stretch in the schedule.
“I have to give credit to our guys, that’s everybody who’s played in these six games in nine nights,” Housley said. “It has been a grind. The guys continue to find energy and ways to win hockey games.”
It probably helps that the Sabres, who have struggled for several seasons, are enjoying their resurgence.
“Obviously it’s early, right? We want to keep this thing going and we want to win as many games as we can,” Eichel said. “It’s only November. But just from where we’ve come from and the struggles the last few years and last year, I just think everyone’s really stepped up this year. We’ve committed to putting our best foot forward every day, trying to get better. It’s a great feeling. Obviously, we have a lot to accomplish still.”