NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, January 8th
(All times eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (17-18-5) at Phoenix Coyotes (19-13-8), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Goals have been coming in bunches for the Coyotes and
Sabres as of late, but both clubs are coming off strong defensive efforts as
Phoenix may be the one that sees its offense shut down tonight as it looks to
halt a four-game slide to Buffalo at Jobing.com Arena.
The Coyotes have scored 20 goals over their last five games, but got just a
pair from Taylor Pyatt in Thursday's 2-0 victory over Colorado. It was
Phoenix's second victory in a row following a 2-4-1 stretch.
With Ilya Bryzgalov having left the team for a family medical situation, Jason
LaBarbera stepped up with 34 saves for his second shutout of the season and
sixth of his career.
"We did a good job of not turning pucks over in our zone," said LaBarbera.
"That sure makes my job a lot easier -- it feels good when I can help the guys
get the win."
Phoenix did reassign goaltender Matt Clime to San Antonio of the American
Hockey League on Friday, so Bryzgalov should dress tonight. He is 1-3-0 with a
3.57 goals-against average versus the Sabres, while LaBarbera is 0-2-0 with a
4.37 GAA when facing them.
Captain Shane Doan had an assist against Colorado to run his point streak to
eight games. He has six goals and seven helpers over that run as well as five
goals and 14 points in 20 career games against the Sabres.
Doan will try to lift his club tonight to its first victory over Buffalo since
Jan. 21, 2008. Phoenix has been outscored, 16-4, in four losses since and was
blasted, 7-2, when the teams last met on Jan. 18 of last year in Phoenix.
Thomas Vanek and Jochen Hecht both had a goal and two assists in that win,
while Vanek has a pair of goals and four assists in six career games versus
Buffalo has won two straight and four of its last five in Phoenix, and is
coming off Thursday's 3-0 triumph in San Jose. Ryan Miller made 36 saves for
his third shutout of the season and 20th of his career.
Miller is a perfect 3-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA and one shutout in his career versus
Vanek scored his team-leading 16th goal of the season and both Hecht and Luke
Adam also tallied for the Sabres, who have won three of four and gave head
coach Lindy Ruff his 500th career victory.
Ruff, who was hired prior to the 1997-98 season, is by far the longest-tenured
head coach in the NHL and tied legendary Montreal Canadiens coach Toe Blake
for third on the all-time list of wins with one team.
Buffalo is 1-0-1 on a three-game road trip but has still lost eight of its
last 11 as the guest.
01/08 10:47:52 ET