PREVIEW: Ducks look to bounce back in Buffalo
Ducks @ Sabres
Tuesday, Feb. 6 @ 3:30 p.m. PT
TV: Prime Ticket/FOX Sports San Diego/FOX Sports GO
BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Sabres had their best win streak of the season in their three-game Western Canada road trip in late January. Since returning home, it’s been back to normal for the struggling Sabres.
The Sabres have lost three in a row, with their most recent loss coming in a 1-0 defeat to St. Louis on Saturday. Buffalo will look to turn things around on Tuesday in another home game against Anaheim.
Scoring continues to be a major problem for the Sabres (14-29-9), who were shut out by the Blues and have three goals in their past three games. That comes after the floodgates opened for Buffalo in their road trip, where the Sabres had 11 goals in three games.
Getting more pucks on net remains a priority for Buffalo.
“The one thing I am seeing is we’re not shooting the puck enough,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said, according to the team’s website. “There’s a lot of opportunities that we’re trying to make a play and we have to put more pucks to the net and we have to get more players there. We talked about that a lot. What it does is it creates offense, it creates a second opportunity. It changes defenses and now they have to react to us. We need to continue to pound that message.”
Jack Eichel leads the Sabres in scoring with 49 points in 52 games (20 goals, 29 assists) but he hasn’t gotten much help in the offensive end. Evander Kane (16 goals, 20 assists) had a hot start to the year but has cooled off as of late.
“We cross that blue line, are we thinking shot and putting pucks to the net? It’s a very simple game but I don’t think we have it,” Housley said, according to the team’s website. “I think there’s times we do. I thought we had it on the West Coast swing. We’re just trying to be too fine and too cute.
“You watch the highlights, it’s puck going to the net and traffic. We’ve got to have more guys going there because you’re going to find a way, it’s going to hit you, you’re going to get a rebound. That’s a tough place to play, but guys that go there get rewarded.”
The Sabres have one more home game in this homestand on Thursday against the New York Islanders before a road game against Boston on Saturday.
The Ducks (25-19-10) are coming off a 7-4 road loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night and have a quick turnaround. This is the final game of a five-game road trip for Anaheim.
Rickard Rakell leads the Ducks in scoring with 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists) in 48 games. Ryan Getzlaf has 31 points (six goals, 25 assists) in 29 games. Both John Gibson (40 games played) and Ryan Miller (17 games played) have a goals-against average of .922; it’s possible that Miller, the long-time Sabres starter, gets the call against his former team.