Sabres Return Home for ‘Wild’ Game After Road Trip, Will Sport Goathead Jerseys
Buffalo hosts Minnesota in first weekend home game since early December
Buffalo Sabres (19-15-2) vs. Minnesota Wild (22-13-2)
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Wild Blog: Hockey Wilderness
Know Your Opponent
Record: 22-13-2 | 46 PTS
Last Game: 5-1 win vs. Lightning
Division Ranking: 3rd in Central Division
PP: 14th (23.5%)
PK: 14th (79.5%)
What to Watch
1. Expect a High-Scoring Game
In their last four games, Minnesota has tallied 15 goals. In Buffalo’s last four games, they have netted 16. Coincidentally, the last time these two teams met was also a high-scoring game which ended in Buffalo’s favor, 5-4, back in March 2022.
The Sabres also remain in first place in the league for both goals per game (3.94 average) and shooting percentage (12.3%) as well as second place on the powerplay (28.1%), despite their recent struggles going 2-of-15. In their last 10 games against Minnesota, Buffalo is 5-4-1; their all-time record is 13-13-1.
2. Official All-Star On the Ice
Obviously, this comes as no surprise, but Tage Thompson has officially been named to the NHL All-Star team. The 30-goal scorer (who also has an impressive 55 points so far this season and an average of 1.53 goals per game) is in good company with other elite players like Alexander Ovechkin and Connor McDavid and ranks second behind the latter in goals. Tommer is on pace to score 68 goals and he certainly shows no signs of slowing down after his hat trick against the Caps on Tuesday to lead the Sabres to an overtime win. As always, he will be one to watch tonight to see if that pace continues. For reference, the 25-year-old forward did not score 30 goals until April last season. Let’s go!
3. Who’s Hot?
For the Sabres:
Besides Thompson, some of his teammates deserve some praise too, and, perhaps the first one who deserves mentioning is Rasmus Dahlin - who has had a very impressive first third of the season. In his last 21 games, he has collected 22 points and is only three goals away from his career high of 13 from last season. It is pretty safe to say he will surpass that stat with ease as he continues to shine game after game.
Other honorable mentions are Dylan Cozens and Alex Tuch - who each had a bit of a slow start to the season but have since contributed so much to the team offensively. Cozens has 27 points in his last 23 games, while Tuch has 31 points in his last 21 games, respectively.
Fans of Whitney Houston will also be happy to hear that the always-smiling Jeff Skinner has also been on a tear lately with 25 points in his last 14 games. He is averaging almost a point per game in his last 12, too.
For the Wild:
Minnesota’s own All-Star, Kirill Kaprizov, is another player to keep an eye on tonight. He currently holds a 14-game point streak, which ties the franchise record previously set by Marion Gaborik. Obviously, if he records a point or more tonight, he will surpass that record and become the new champ. Kaprizov now has 47 points in 37 games.
Marc Andre-Fleury may reach another milestone tonight. If it feels like he has been playing for forever, it is because he has. Assuming he starts tonight, the 38-year-old Canadian will move into fifth place for most games played by a goaltender in NHL history with 964, passing Ed Belfour. Following tonight’s game, he will need just eight more game appearances to move into fourth place.
After a Tough Week:
Tonight will be the Sabres’ first home game since the Bills-Bengals game on Monday night. Safety Damar Hamlin has been in everyone’s thoughts as he has thankfully shown small signs of improvement all week following his collapse on Monday night. Prior to Tuesday’s puck drop, the Washington Capitals organization held a moment of silence to recognize Hamlin, his family, and the team. Though nothing has been released, fans should expect something similar tonight at KeyBank Center to honor Hamlin and the amazing medical staff that helped save his life.
Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Alex Tuch
JJ Peterka - Dylan Cozens - Jack Quinn
Casey Mittelstadt - Tyson Jost - Victor Olofsson
Zemgus Girgensons - Peyton Krebs - Kyle Okposo
Mattias Samuelsson - Rasmus Dahlin
Owen Power - Kale Clague*
Jacob Bryson - Ilya Lyubushkin
Goaltenders: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (confirmed starter), Craig Anderson
*Defenseman Henri Jokiharju practiced today, but is not expected to return for at least a week.
Scratched: Rasmus Asplund, Casey Fitzgerald, Vinnie Hinostroza
Injured: Henri Jokiharju (lower-body), Eric Comrie (conditioning-AHL)
Kirill Kaprizov - Sam Steel - Matt Boldy
Jordan Greenway - Joel Eriksson Ek - Marcus Foligno
Brandon Duhaime - Frederick Gaudreau - Ryan Hartman
Mason Shaw - Connor Dewar - Ryan Reaves
Jake Middleton - Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill - Calen Addison
Goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (expected starter), Zane McIntyre
Scratched: Alex Goligoski
Injured: Mats Zuccarello (upper-body), Filip Gustavsson (illness)