Coyotes vs. Sabres Preview: The Desert Dogs Come To Town

GLENDALE AZ - JANUARY 08: Tim Connolly #19 of the Buffalo Sabres shoots the puck past Adrian Aucoin #33 of the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL game at Arena on January 8 2011 in Glendale Arizona. The Sabres defeated the Coyotes 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Buffalo Sabres are facing off against the Phoenix Coyotes in their only matchup of the season. The Sabres have yet to lose to a Western Conference team this season and the Phoenix Coyotes haven't won a game in Buffalo since 2006. The Sabres also are 2-4-4 at home in their last 10 against the Coyotes. 

The Sabres are coming off a road win to the Carolina Hurricanes which saw Jhonas Enroth make 34 saves for his second shutout of the season. The Sabres didn't win the game pretty, allowing the Hurricanes to outshoot them 26 to 10 in the final two periods, but they still pulled out the victory and earned the two points. That win puts the Sabres two points ahead of the Maple Leafs for the division lead and one point behind the Flyers for the conference lead. Their 12 wins are most in the Eastern Conference and tied with the Chicago Blackhawks for most in the league. 

The second game of a back to back situation has been pretty good for the Sabres this season, as they have gone 3-1 thus far. This is the first time they are coming home for a game after playing on the road this season and coach Lindy Ruff is looking to keep the shifts short and rotating four lines throughout the game to keep the players fresh out on the ice. 

The Sabres are slowly getting healthier but there aren't any changes heading into tonight's game against the Coyotes. TJ Brennan was sent back down to the Rochester Americans and he will be playing this afternoon against the Marlies. Mike Weber is going to be out for a few weeks according to head coach Lindy Ruff. Jochen Hecht and Tyler Ennis are still day to day but both should be close to returning. 

For the Coyotes, former Sabre Taylor Pyatt will be celebrating a milestone back on ice that he spent a good portion of his career on as tonight's game will be Pyatt's 700th career game. He played 230 games for the Sabres over four seasons and had 80 points during that time. He was traded by the Sabres to Vancouver for a 4th round pick and played three seasons for the Canucks before moving on to Phoenix. 

Another popular Coyote will be making his debut on First Niagara Center ice as Paul Bissonnette should be in the lineup for the Coyotes tonight. Why am I mentioning a fourth line player that has played one career game against the Buffalo Sabres? He is one of the most charismatic players in the NHL and his Twitter account has become one of the more popular player accounts in the league. Tonight is also the chance for his family to actually see him in a National Hockey League game. This from the National Post

The Coyotes are set to play the Sabres Saturday night in Buffalo, across the border from Welland. More than 50 friends and family members are expected to attend - including Bissonnette's 85-year-old grandfather, who has also never seen him play - and Yolande and Cam [his mother and father] have rinkside seats.

"I'll have a tear in my eye, for sure," said Cam, a former steelworker.

"It's like the cherry on top of the sundae," Yolande said.

"It's just good to play in front of your friends and family," Paul said. "Being so far away it doesn't happen very often. Hopefully, I can get into the lineup and put on a good show for them."

Unfortunately for Bissonnette, he probably won't get the chance to drop the gloves very much as Cody McCormick will still be out of the lineup. Even still, he will still get a chance to throw his body around and log a few minutes of ice time.

Game time is at 7:00 pm. 

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