The Buffalo Sabres are looking for a bounce-back win when they host the reeling San Jose Sharks on Sunday.
The Sabres are coming off a 6-4 loss to the visiting and defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. The defeat was their third setback in the last four games.
The Sharks lost 5-2 to the host Ottawa Senators on Saturday, San Jose’s seventh defeat in its past nine games (2-6-1).
Buffalo led the Avalanche 2-1 after the first period before the Avalanche scored three times in a span of 2:53 to take a 4-2 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Dylan Cozens and Tage Thompson each had a goal and two assists, while JJ Peterka and Alex Tuch each had a goal apiece for the Sabres, who received 28 saves from backup goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1-2-0, 4.22 GAA).
“I thought we played really well 5-on-5. We gave them too many opportunities obviously with the penalties we took,” Tuch said. “I thought we played a full 60 minutes, other than the penalties, and simple mistakes here or there that we just have to shore up because they have a lot of weapons over there.”
Thompson has a team-high 15 goals to go along with 17 assists for a team-high 32 points, while Rasmus Dahlin has eight goals and a team-high 19 assists for 27 points. Jeff Skinner has 11 goals and 24 assists, while Tuch has 11 goals and a dozen assists.
Craig Anderson (5-4, 2.87 GAA) is expected to start for the Sabres in goal against San Jose’s Kaapo Kahkonen (3-5-2, 3.43 GAA), who made 34 saves against the Senators.
San Jose’s Tomas Hertl’s two first-period goals staked the Sharks to a 2-1 lead after the first intermission, but the Senators tallied twice in the second and third periods on Kahkonen to pull away.
“It’s a reaction sport and I find the more that you try and control it, the less you do,” San Jose defenseman Erik Karlsson said of his team’s recent slide. “You’re playing against the other teams and the other players that are trying to do their best and do things to hinder you. It’s like a big puzzle out there. You can’t solve it until you’re actually there.”
The Senators scored on three of their five man-advantage opportunities, while the Sharks converted on one of their four power plays.
San Jose entered the game first in the league on the penalty kill at 91.6 percent and had not allowed more than one power-play goal in a game this season.
San Jose is led by Karlsson’s 11 goals and team-leading 22 assists for a team-high 33 points, while Hertl has nine goals, including four in his past three games, to go along with 16 assists. Logan Couture has a team-high 13 goals and 10 assists, with Timo Meier chipping in 12 goals and 11 assists.
The Sharks have defeated the Sabres in six of the teams’ past nine meetings dating to March 2017, with two of Buffalo’s wins in overtime.
–Field Level Media