NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, October 17th (All times Eastern)
Vancouver Canucks (4-3-0) at Buffalo Sabres (1-6-1), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Buffalo Sabres hope to build off their first win of the season when they host the Vancouver Canucks in Thursday's clash at First Niagara Center.
The Sabres were 0-6-1 through the first seven games of 2013-14, but finally picked up a victory in Tuesday's road tilt against the New York Islanders. Tyler Ennis scored the deciding goal during the second round of the shootout to lift the Sabres to a come-from-behind win at Nassau Coliseum.
The 4-3 shootout decision ended a club record-tying streak for futility at the start of the season. The last time Buffalo went seven games into a campaign without a victory was in 1999-2000, when the Sabres recorded five losses and two ties.
The Sabres trailed 3-2 before Marcus Foligno found the back of the net with 2:01 remaining in the third period, and Thomas Vanek and Ennis both converted their shootout opportunities before Ryan Miller officially stopped Buffalo's losing streak with a save on John Tavares.
Ennis and Vanek also scored in regulation, while Miller racked up 41 saves prior to stoning two of New York's three skaters in the shootout.
"It was a great job by our guys," said Miller. "Glad to get that (first win)."
Buffalo now has a chance to earn its first home win of the season, having posted an 0-3-1 mark in Western New York so far. Thursday's contest marks the start of a three-game homestand for the Sabres, who also will welcome Colorado and Boston during the residency.
Sabres forward Cody Hodgson will play his second career game against the Canucks, who drafted him with the 10th overall pick in the 2008 draft before eventually trading him to Buffalo for fellow forward Zack Kassian during the 2011-12 season. Hodgson played at Vancouver on March 3, 2012, less than one week after the trade, but did not record a point in that meeting. Kassian had one goal and one assist in that game, which Buffalo won by a 5-3 score.
Hodgson has one goal and five assists in eight games this season. Kassian, meanwhile, has failed to record a point for the Canucks in two games since returning from a suspension for a high-sticking incident against Edmonton in the preseason.
All told, Hodgson has 19 goals and 48 points in 76 games since the trade, while Kassian has posted eight goals and six assists over 58 contests with the Canucks.
Vancouver had lost two straight regulation games by identical 4-1 scores before ending the brief slide with Tuesday's win in Philadelphia. Ryan Kesler scored a pair of goals, including the deciding tally with 2:25 left in regulation, to help the Canucks open a seven-game road trip on a positive note.
The Canucks trailed the Flyers by a 2-1 count heading into the third period, but Vancouver scored the only two goals of the final 20 minutes to take a 3-2 decision.
Chris Higgins added a goal and one assist and tied the game at 2-2 with 12:29 remaining in the third period, setting up Kesler's game-winner. Henrik Sedin posted two helpers for the Canucks, while Roberto Luongo stopped 20 shots for the win.
"It was a nice one, especially since the couple of guys that scored goals had been working hard all year so far, but hadn't gotten rewarded much," Luongo said. "So it's nice that they both contributed in a huge way there."
Vancouver is 2-1-0 as the visiting team this season and will continue its swing this Saturday in Pittsburgh.
The Sabres have won four of the last five meetings against the Canucks. Buffalo also has claimed three in a row and five of the past six encounters in Western New York.
10/17 10:33:26 ET