Idle for nine of the past 10 days, the Anaheim Ducks are about to get much busier on this four-game East Coast swing.
The underachieving Ducks are looking to capitalize on their time off to get this trip off to a strong start and beat the Buffalo Sabres for a fifth straight meeting Thursday night.
Anaheim (11-13-5) has won three straight Pacific Division titles and finished with the most points in the Western Conference last season. The Ducks currently own the fewest in the West, and that's partly due to having the last five days off after falling 5-1 to Carolina to conclude a 3-2-1 homestand.
"When you don't get any points in nine days, other teams pass you and go by you," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "There's a sense of urgency to get points. Everybody knows the importance of that this week.
"The thing is, we have to win. We have to win because players want to win. They're used to winning and don't like losing, and we want to be where we should be."
The Ducks, 3-8-1 on the road, have outscored the Sabres 21-7 while winning four straight matchups.
After facing the Sabres (13-16-3), Anaheim's next three games come in a four-day span in the New York metropolitan area.
"The time off had given us time to work on things," center Shawn Horcoff said. "We worked a lot on special teams and we had some really hard practices. I think we're trying to keep the tempo high. We know the importance, as an organization, of this situation we're in. It's never easy playing one game with nine days off. I've never had it before."
Anaheim's power play is 1 for 16 over the past six games and has come up empty on its last 10.
Corey Perry leads the Ducks with 10 goals after scoring three times in the last five games. The star right wing has found the net six times in his last four meetings with Buffalo, including a hat trick in the latest.
The Sabres have lost four of their last six games after falling 2-0 to New Jersey on Tuesday.
"The guys are playing pretty well," Tyler Ennis said. "It's been a tough schedule. The last game (Buffalo's third in four nights) we might have been a little tired, but we've been in every game. There's a lot of good things the guys are doing well."
Ryan O'Reilly is looking to bounce back after his eight-game point streak ended against the Devils. The left wing had 11 points during that run before finishing as a minus-2.
O'Reilly has six goals and six assists in his last 15 meetings with Anaheim, while Rasmus Ristolainen has no points in four games.
Jack Eichel is mired in a five-game point drought. The star rookie has seven of his nine goals and three of his five assists at home.
The Ducks will be without center Nate Thompson, who was suspended three games without pay for an illegal check to the head of Carolina's Justin Faulk. Thompson was assessed a major for elbowing and a game misconduct.