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Sabres vs Coyotes Game Preview: Night in the Desert

Sabres and Coyotes meet in the desert for the first time this season

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Arizona Coyotes Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Game #13

Buffalo Sabres (3-7-2) vs. Arizona Coyotes (1-11-1)

Puck drop: 10:00 p.m. EST | Gila River Arena | Glendale, AZ


Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Coyotes blog: Five For Howling

What to Watch

1. Justin Falk will return to the lineup

Defenseman Justin Falk will make his season debut tonight for the Sabres after being injured at the end of the preseason. It appears as though he’ll play on the third pair with Victor Antipin. After a strong training camp, we’ll see if he can pick back up where he left off.

2. Can the Sabres take advantage?

Arizona has only won once in 13 games this season. Don’t let the Coyotes fool you they have some talent on this team. That being said they’re playing some bad hockey right now. They’re also coming off of a long five-game east coast road trip. Usually, the first game back at home is difficult after trips across the country, especially when you combine that with this being their third game in four nights. The Sabres need this one to start the month on a good note.

3. No Justin Bailey or Nick Baptiste.

Justin Bailey will miss tonight’s game with a lower-body-injury that Phil Housley classified as day to day. Which means he’ll miss a few games or the next four months. Housley’s injury designations have been hard to read this season to say the least.

In a little bit of a surprise move it looks like his replacement Nick Baptiste who was called up yesterday will also not play tonight. Instead the Sabres are appear comfortable with playing Matt Moulson, Jordan Nolan and Seth Griffith instead. We’ll see if things change from the morning skate when game time rolls around.

Know Your Opponent

1. Clayton Keller is REALLY good.

The Coyotes have one of the more exciting young players in the game on their team in Clayton Keller. The 19-year-old forward was drafted seventh overall in the 2016 NHL draft one spot before the Sabres picked Alex Nylander. He’s already the leader for the Calder this season with nine goals and 15 points in 13 games.

2. Giving up goals in bunches.

Arizona has given up the most goals in the NHL this season so far with 56 goals against. They also have the leagues worst goal differential at -23. The Sabres, by the way, have the second worse at -15 if you were curious. Tonight should be a golden opportunity for the Sabres to get themselves out of their scoring troubles. Flip side if you’re not careful players like Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Christian Dvorak, Derek Stepan and Keller can fill the net pretty well.

3. Winless at home.

The Coyotes are winless at home this season with a 0-4-1 record in Glendale. The Sabres are 2-4-1 on the road this season. Arizona has also been outscored this season 21-11 in their own building thus far.

Projected Lines:

9 Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 29 Jason Pominville

67 Benoit Pouliot - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo

28 Zemgus Girgensons - 23 Sam Reinhart - 25 Seth Griffith

26 Matt Moulson - 22 Johan Larsson - 17 Jordan Nolan

6 Marco Scandella - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

5 Matt Tennyson - 19 Jake McCabe

41 Justin Falk - 93 Victor Antipin

Starting Goaltender: 40 Robin Lehner