The San Jose Sharks will try to post consecutive wins for the first time in a month when they host the Buffalo Sabres tonight at HP Pavilion.
The Sharks recently ended a nine-game trip with a disappointing 2-6-1 record, but they were able to post a win over Philadelphia on Tuesday in the opener of a four-game homestand. San Jose hasn't put together two wins in a row since a three-game win streak from Jan. 24-Feb. 2 and will try to change that tonight.
San Jose's rough trip allowed a red-hot Phoenix to take over first place in the Pacific Division. However, the Coyotes, who play tonight against visiting Calgary, are just two points in front of the Sharks. San Jose is also two points behind Chicago for the sixth seed in the Western Conference.
Antti Niemi came up big for the Sharks in the win over the Flyers, as he made 26 saves for his fifth shutout of the season in the 1-0 victory. Ryane Clowe scored the only goal 82 seconds into the game as the Sharks notched their ninth win in a row over Philadelphia. San Jose is 11-0-0 with a pair of ties in the past 13 meetings since the Flyers' last triumph on December 21, 2000.
"When you score early you feel good and you get some offensive chances and you think you're going to have a big night," said Clowe. "I didn't think it was going to be a 1-0 game."
San Jose head coach Todd McLellan missed Tuesday's game because of concussion- like symptoms and is expected to be absent from the bench again tonight. McLellan suffered the head injury after being struck with a stick during the second period of Sunday's game against Minnesota. Assistants Matt Shaw and Jay Woodcroft shared the coaching duties in Tuesday's win.
The Sharks were also down a trio of key players on Tuesday, as forwards Logan Couture and Dominic Moore missed the contest with lower-body injuries and defenseman Douglas Murray sat out again with a fractured throat. Couture could play tonight, while Moore and Murray are expected to miss another tilt.
San Jose, which will also hosts St. Louis and Edmonton on this homestand, is 19-9-2 as the host this season.
The Sabres enter tonight on a six-game point streak, as they've posted a 4-0-2 mark since a 7-2 loss in Philadelphia on Feb. 16. Buffalo is coming off a Wednesday's win in Anaheim, as Ryan Miller stopped 43 shots for his fourth shutout of the season, Miller made 10 stops in the first period, 13 in the second and 20 in the third to anchor the Sabres in the 2-0 win at Honda Center.
"I felt pretty good and I've been trying to be really calm in the net, and start from there in the crease," said Miller. "It helps that we have a lot of great back pressure and our 'D' is able to stand some guys up. I don't feel like I have to challenge the rush play as much and I can read what's coming."
Buffalo is just 12-16-1 as the visiting team this year and is playing the third test of a five-game road trip tonight. The Sabres will make stops in Vancouver and Winnipeg before returning home.
With 64 points, Buffalo is currently five behind Washington for the eighth and final postseason berth in the East.
The Sabres have won three straight and five of the last six meetings with the Sharks and San Jose has dropped three of its last four home tilts against Buffalo. Tonight's encounter is the only scheduled contest between the clubs this season.