It’s the second of a back-to-back on Friday night for Vancouver as the Canucks make their only trip of the season to Buffalo with the Sabres, one of the most disappointing teams so far this season.
Vancouver Canucks at Buffalo Sabres
When: Friday, 7 p.m. ET Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo Moneylines: Sabres -150, Canucks +130 (5.5)
NHL Odds and Betting Analysis
This is the first of two meetings between the teams, with Buffalo visiting Vancouver on Jan. 25. The Canucks swept the series in 2016-17. It was 2-1 at home early in the season on a Daniel Sedin game-winner in the third period and 26 saves from Jacob Markstrom, who was the game’s No. 1 star. Brandon Sutter had two assists. On Feb. 12 in Buffalo, the Canucks won 4-2 – it was 2-2 after one period, but Alex Burrows and Michael Chaput scored in the second for Vancouver. Chaput also had a first-period goal and was the No. 1 star. Bo Horvat added a goal and an assist. Markstrom again had 26 saves.
No Sabres player had more than one point against the Canucks last year. Kyle Okposo, Tyler Ennis and Nicholas Baptiste had the goals. Robin Lehner was in net for both and finished with a 3.09 goals-against average and .882 save percentage.
The Canucks are 2-5 in their past seven in Buffalo and the over is 5-1-1 in the past seven meetings overall.
The Sabres (1-4-2) had just 78 points last year and haven’t made the playoffs since 2011 but many expected this team to take a jump this year with some good young talent, solid offseason additions and a new head coach in Phil Housley, a Hall of Fame defenceman who played for eight teams in his brilliant career – including five years with Calgary, three with Winnipeg and one game, his last, with Toronto. Buffalo’s only win thus far was 3-1 at Anaheim last Sunday.
The schedule has been a challenge with only two at home. But the goaltending — Lehner & Chad Johnson — has been one of the worst in the NHL, allowing 3.9 goals per game. Offensively, the Sabres have three players any team would take in wingers Evander Kane (5G, 5A) and Jason Pominville (4G, 5A), and center Jack Eichel (2G, 7A), but that trio isn’t getting much help. Buffalo is scoring only 2.6 goals per night. It might be Johnson in net as Lehner missed Thursday’s practice due to illness.
The Canucks (2-3-1) played their first four games of the season at home – winning just one – and this is game No. 3 of a five-game road trip. They are 1-1 on it following a 6-3 loss in Boston on Thursday. Anders Nilsson started the second game in a row in net but wasn’t close to as sharp as his shutout in Ottawa on Tuesday. He allowed four goals on 17 shots and was pulled midway through the first period for Markstrom, who should start here. Derek Dorsett, Thomas Vanek and Horvat had the Vancouver goals. The Canucks allowed Boston to score four times on the power play.
Canucks at Sabres Prediction
Buffalo 4, Vancouver 3.