NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, March 3rd
(All times Eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (29-27-8) at Vancouver Canucks (41-16-8), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Canucks and Sabres pulled off a trade with each other
prior to last Monday's deadline that both hope will improve their chances in
The squads will get a look at former teammates tonight when Western
Conference-leading Vancouver plays host to Buffalo.
While the Sabres are still on the outside of the playoff picture, the Canucks
were looking to make a move that would fit their style in the postseason. So,
they traded young center and fan favorite Cody Hodgson to Buffalo for bigger
winger Zack Kassian. The two also swapped defenseman, with Marc-Andre Gragnani
going to the Canucks for Alexander Sulzer.
Hodgson, the 22-year-old 10th overall pick of the 2009 draft, had 16 goals
with the Canucks this season prior to the trade and has skated in two games
with Buffalo. He is a plus-2 in that span while logging nearly 35 minutes of
total ice time without a point.
The 21-year-old Kassian, meanwhile, has played in two games with the Canucks
as well. The 214-pound 13th selection of the 2009 draft hasn't topped 13
minutes of ice time in either game and is also without a point.
Tonight will also mark Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff's first game versus
the Canucks since leaving the franchise as a free agent to sign a 10-year, $40
million deal with the Sabres. Ehrhoff has 26 points in 53 games with Buffalo
after logging 94 points in his previous two seasons with the Canucks.
Ehrhoff was one of Buffalo's big acquisitions this offseason as it looks to
win a playoff series for the first time since the 2007 postseason. The Sabres
come into this matchup riding a season-high seven-game point streak, but still
sit four points behind the eighth spot in the East.
Buffalo will look for another big outing from its goaltender tonight after
Ryan Miller posted his second straight shutout in a 1-0 win over San Jose.
Miller made 39 saves one night after turning aside all 43 shots faced in a 2-0
victory over Anaheim.
Miller logged his fifth shutout of the season, matching a career high, and the
27th of his career. He hasn't given up a goal since the 2:01 mark of an
overtime loss to the Rangers on Feb. 25.
"It's an important time of year for us and I'm just happy I can back up the
guys," said Miller. "They're the ones who are doing most of the work. We need
these wins to get back in the hunt."
Drew Stafford scored the only goal of the game in the first period for the
Sabres, who are 5-0-2 since a 7-2 loss in Philadelphia on Feb. 16 and have
earned five of a possible six points so far on a five-game road trip that ends
in Winnipeg on Monday.
The Canucks are in much better shape as they lead the NHL with 90 points. That
is one more than the East-leading Rangers and Central Division front-running
Red Wings as well as three points up on the Blues.
Vancouver padded its lead over St. Louis with a 2-0 win over the visiting
Blues on Thursday. Roberto Luongo notched his third shutout of the season and
58th of his career with 29 saves.
Alexandre Burrows scored the winner in the third while Chris Higgins added an
empty-netter for the Canucks, who were coming off consecutive defeats beyond
regulation and have points in 23 of their last 26 games (17-3-6).
"He wins games like that for us all the time," said Higgins about Luongo. "It
gives you a lot of confidence knowing we have him back there. You'll see games
like that from him more down the stretch."
Vancouver won the opener of a seven-game homestand and has points in nine
straight as the host. It is 7-0-2 since its last regulation defeat in
Vancouver on Jan. 15.
The Canucks haven't lost to the Sabres at home since Feb. 28, 1999, winning
three straight meetings while going 5-0 with a tie in their past six at home
in this series.
Buffalo has won three of the past four encounters overall, including a 4-3
overtime win at home in the lone encounter last year.
03/03 10:48:29 ET