Sabres look to stay strong at home vs. Blues
The Buffalo Sabres will look to continue their strong home-ice play when the host the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.
The Sabres are 8-3-3 at KeyBank Center this season with victories in their last two games in the venue. They returned home after concluding a 1-1-1 trip with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.
They have earned points in seven of their last nine games under first-year coach Ralph Krueger to climb into third place in the Atlantic Division.
"Overall there is a consistency now and a belief in what our game is," Krueger told reporters after the Oilers game. "It's one thing to know that we have a plan, it's one thing to know we have a game, but the other thing is it starts becoming automatic and that the habits come through."
Sabres center Jack Eichel has produced 10 goals and 13 assists during his 13-game points streak. Linus Ullmark has won four of his last six starts and supplanted former Blue Carter Hutton as Buffalo's No. 1 goaltender.
The Central Division-leading Blues come into this game after suffering back-to-back losses in regulation for the first time all season. And their injuries keep mounting.
Forward Zach Sanford exited the 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs with an upper-body injury. Along with forwards Alexander Steen (ankle) and Oskar Sundqvist (foot), he is expected to remain sidelined for Tuesday.
With top winger Vladimir Tarasenko shelved for months after shoulder surgery and Sammy Blais (wrist) out until January, coach Craig Berube is scrounging for goals.
David Perron (four goals, six assists in his last 10 games) and Ryan O'Reilly (one goal, six assists in seven games) have clicked on one scoring line, and Brayden Schenn has good chemistry with Jaden Schwartz on the other scoring line. Otherwise the forward lines have remained in flux at even strength.
The Blues have struggled on the power-play lately, going 0 for 8 in their last two games.
"We're trying to find some scoring," Berube told reporters Sunday. "In the last couple of these games, we're not getting enough goals. I'm just trying to find some scoring, some chemistry somewhere, maybe a spark here and there.
"As injuries have piled up and you lose a guy like Vladi, a 35-goal scorer out of your lineup, you've got to find goals somewhere. I've just kind of been juggling a little bit, probably a little too much at times."
The Blues recalled forward prospect Jordan Kyrou, who has nine goals in 16 games in the American Hockey League, from San Antonio on Monday. He could his make his NHL season debut Tuesday.
Meanwhile the Sabres have gotten healthier. When forward Evan Rodrigues returned Sunday against the Oilers after missing seven games with a lower-body injury, Krueger scratched 21-year-old Casey Mittelstadt, the eighth overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.
"For Casey, it was a day to take a breath, take a watch from the outside, and learn from sometimes watching from the outside," Krueger said. "When you're at an age like that, we're just nothing but excited about the way he dealt with today and the time we had with him and the coaching we were able to do with him."
--Field Level Media
Updated December 9, 2019