Sabres hope to get on track versus Flames
The Buffalo Sabres have stumbled after a strong start to the season and they'll try to get back on track tonight, when they host the Calgary Flames at First Niagara Center.
The Sabres began the season by posting five wins in their first six games, but Lindy Ruff's club is just 1-4-0 since. Buffalo also has just one win in the first four tilts of a five-game homestand that ends tonight. The Sabres are 2-4-0 on home ice for the season.
Buffalo has dropped its last two games by identical 3-2 scores and the most recent setback came Wednesday against Philadelphia. The Flyers scored three times in the first six and a half minutes of the game and held on for the win.
"It's a good offensive team. We give them chances like we did and they can certainly capitalize," said Sabres winger Thomas Vanek. "We got it together and played good but it was too late."
Luke Adam had a goal and an assist while Andrej Sekera scored the other goal for the Sabres. Vanek had an assist to give him points in four straight and 10 of his last 11 games.
Ryan Miller continued to struggle in net on Wednesday, giving up three goals on 11 shots and was yanked from net after Scott Hartnell made it 3-0 for the Flyers at 6:23 of the first period. Jhonas Enroth did his best to keep his team in the game, stopping all 15 shots faced in relief.
Miller, who won the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goalie in 2009-10, is 4-5-0 with a solid .922 save percentage and a respectable 2.49 goals-against average this year, but he has surrendered three or more goals in each of his last three starts. Enroth is 2-0 with a .955 save percentage and 1.39 GAA.
Ruff has not revealed whether Miller or Enroth will get the start tonight. With Buffalo also playing tomorrow night in Ottawa the duo is expected to split starts over the next two games.
Buffalo will not have physical forward Patrick Kaleta for the next four games after he was suspended by the NHL for an illegal hit on Flyers forward Jakub Voracek. Early in the first period, Kaleta drove the top of his helmet into Voracek's face as several players battled for a puck against the boards.
NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan explained in a video Thursday that this is the third time Kaleta has head-butted an opposing player.
"This recent history of ramming his head into the faces of his opponents regardless of whether he is trying to free the puck leads us to believe that this act is intentional," Shanahan said.
Kaleta is eligible to return November 12 at Boston. He has one goal and 18 penalty minutes in 11 games this season.
The Flames, meanwhile, have won three of their last four games and are coming off Thursday's victory in Detroit. Jarome Iginla had two goals and one assist as Calgary beat Detroit, 4-1, to hand the Red Wings their first six-game losing streak in almost four years.
"We knew Detroit was going to be hungry tonight and we're trying to bounce back, they're trying to get rolling too. It always feels really good to beat Detroit in here," Iginla said.
Iginla ended a four-game goal drought with his two markers and Calgary's captain now has four goals and three assists on the season.
Lee Stempniak also scored for the Flames, while Miikka Kiprusoff had 28 saves to start a three-game road trip. Calgary, which is 2-2-0 as the guest this year, will complete this swing Sunday in Colorado.
The Flames have won two of three and three of the last five meetings with the Sabres. However, Calgary has lost seven straight in Buffalo and is winless (0-4-3-1) in its last eight trips to western New York. The last time the Flames earned a victory in Buffalo was on March 15, 1996.
This is the only scheduled meeting between Calgary and Buffalo this season.