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Sabres Get Right Back at It

Sabres seek to rebound after disappointing loss to Flyers

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Seattle Kraken Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Game 39

Buffalo Sabres (20-16-2) vs. Seattle Kraken (23-12-4)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY

TV: MSG-B

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Kraken Blog: Davy Jones Locker Room

Know Your Opponent

Seattle Kraken

Record: 23-12-4 | 50 PTS

Division Ranking: 3rd in Pacific Division

Last Game: 4-0 Win vs Montreal Canadiens (Monday)

PP: 17th (24.4%)

PK: 31st (69.3%)

What to Watch

1. Set an Alarm

Last night, the Flyers walked into Buffalo and waltzed out with an easy victory. It was as if the Sabres hit snooze too many times when getting up for the game and woke up too late. The bright side: they have an opportunity to rebound from a brutal showing right away. In an 82-game season, there are bound to be some duds. Even the deliberately talent deficient, tank year Sabres team won 23 games. The key to season long success is to come back swinging after a whiff. That’s a tall order against a streaking Seattle team that is 5-0 in 2023 so far. However, they do have a glaring weakness: special teams. Their powerplay is average and their penalty kill is dismal. Buffalo will need to use their speed to draw some penalties and cash in on the man advantage. If the Sabres can keep the pressure on their opponents and earn some powerplays, they have a good chance to remove the stain of Monday’s clunker from their memories. They just might want to set some extra alarms

2. Goalie Carousel

Many Sabres fans were puzzled by the news of Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen being sent down to Rochester. This was essentially a paper transaction necessitated by the manner of his call up. Once Comrie was activated, UPL had to be “sent down,” but Kevin Adams made it clear that he had earned continued playing time in Buffalo. His recent stretch is hard to ignore as UPL has won 6 straight starts and 8 of his last 9. It may not have been their original plan, but UPL’s play has created a three-way split in the Buffalo crease for the first time since 2005 (Miller/Biron/Noronen). Will the added competition for ice time propel the young goaltender to new heights or will the reduction in consistent gameplay throw off his current groove? This matchup will be a good test of the new situation as Seattle ranks 3rd in the NHL with 3.7 goals scored per game.

3. Calder Matchup

For the second time this season, the top 2 picks in the 2021 draft will square off. Matthew Beniers comes in riding a 4-game point streak in which he has scored 3 goals, 7 points and is +7. He has 32 points in 39 games this season and has emerged as Seattle’s top center. Owen Power has no goals and 14 assists in 35 games so far this season. However, his impact goes well beyond his point totals. He is heavily relied on to carry the Sabres second defensive pair with a rotating cast of defensive partners. His ability to calmly limit opponents’ chances against, catalyze the Sabres transition, and preserve offensive possession has been indispensable for Buffalo. Both players have an excellent argument for the Calder Trophy if the season ended today. Tonight will be an a entertaining matchup between two 20 year old franchise players - not to mention Jack Quinn & JJ Peterka.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Skinner - Thompson - Tuch

Quinn - Cozens - Peterka

Mittelstadt - Jost - Olofsson

Girgensons - Krebs - Okposo

Defense

Samuelsson - Dahlin

Power – Clague

Bryson – Lyubushkin

Starter: Luukkonen

Kraken

Forwards

Burakovsky - Beniers - Eberle

Schwartz - Wennberg - McCann

Tolvanen - Gourde - Bjorkstrand

Tanev – Donato – Sprong

Defense

Larsson - Dunn

Oleksiak - Schultz

Soucy – Borgen

Starter: Grubauer