Published May 02, 2016
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Vancouver Canucks hope to complete their road trip with a third straight victory when they visit the Buffalo Sabres for Thursday's encounter at First Niagara Center.
The Canucks have won four of five overall and own a 3-1-0 mark on a five-game trek that ends tonight in Western New York. Vancouver is leading the NHL in road victories this season, posting an impressive 19-11-2 mark away from Rogers Arena.
The club's lone loss on this swing came Friday in New Jersey, but the Canucks have answered by beating the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins. After downing the Islanders 4-0 on Sunday, Vancouver edged the Bruins by a 2-1 count in Tuesday's meeting at TD Garden.
Eddie Lack played a huge role in Tuesday's win, turning aside 40 shots to anchor the close victory.
"I mean it was a busy night," said Lack. "But it felt like we kept them a lot to the outside. So it was a good overall effort from everyone."
With Ryan Miller expected to be out with a lower-body injury for the next several weeks, Lack is the team's de facto No. 1 option in net and he is expected to start again tonight.
Ryan Stanton and Zack Kassian scored for the Canucks. Kassian has registered a goal in three straight games, posting four of his nine markers this season during the run.
Vancouver enters tonight with 73 points, three ahead of the Los Angeles Kings for second place in the Pacific Division. The club hopes to at least keep that distance tonight when it aims for a fourth straight win in the series against Buffalo.
The Kings, who have won eight straight, host the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.
Buffalo is still sitting at the very bottom of the NHL standings, but the club did pick up a win Tuesday in Columbus and has not been an easy opponent to face in recent weeks.
The Sabres have seen eight of their last nine games decided by just one goal and they own a 2-1-2 mark over the past five trips to the ice.
However, Buffalo has lost five straight on home ice and is 11-18-3 at First Niagara Center this season. The Sabres have recorded five wins over the last seven home encounters versus the Canucks.
Michal Neuvirth undoubtedly has been Buffalo's best player over the last several games and the goaltender made 45 saves to help the Sabres beat the Blue Jackets, 4-2, on Tuesday. Neuvirth has averaged nearly 40 saves a game over his last four trips to the ice and is 2-1-1 in those outings.
"Always focusing on the next shot. Always in my head, playing the game like it's 0-0," Neuvirth said of his mindset.
Neuvirth will likely get the call again tonight and is 0-2 with a 4.22 goals against average in his career versus the Canucks.
Zemgus Girgensons recorded a goal and an assist for Buffalo before hurting himself on a blocked shot. Cody Hodgson, Mark Pysyk and Chris Stewart also lit the lamp for the Sabres.
Girgensons is expected to be sidelined for a considerable amount of time, and possibly the remainder of the season. Fellow forward Tyler Ennis also left Tuesday with an undisclosed injury and is not expected to play tonight.