(SportsNetwork.com) – The last-place Buffalo Sabres were forced to watch their
home fans cheer a loss last time out.
The Colorado Avalanche probably won’t see the same reaction if they were to
lose on Saturday night to the Sabres for the first time in over nine years.
The Avalanche are in an uphill battle for a postseason spot thanks to a recent
2-2-1 road trip that concluded with Thursday’s 4-1 win over the Vancouver
Canucks. Colorado is 10 points back of the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild
card berth in the Western Conference with eight games to play to the idle
Gabriel Landeskog and Alex Tanguay each had a goal and an assist in the win
over the Canucks, while Jarome Iginla and John Mitchell added tallies. Ryan
O’Reilly had two assists, giving him four goals and seven helpers over a six-
game point streak, while Iginla tied Jean Beliveau for 40th place on the NHL’s
all-time points list with 1,219.
“We were skating well tonight,” said Avs coach Patrick Roy. “It was probably
one of our best (first two periods) of the season. They were fun to watch.”
Reto Berra stopped 33 shots in the win as he got the start over Semyon
Varlamov. Berra relieved Varlamov in a loss to Edmonton the previous night and
made his first start since Nov. 25. He picked up his first victory since Nov.
Regardless, Varlamov could return to action tonight and is 4-0-1 in five
career meetings with the Sabres, posting a 2.16 goals against average and .919
The Avalanche have won eight in a row versus the Sabres, including a 5-1
triumph in Buffalo on Dec. 20. They haven’t lost to the Sabres since Dec. 4,
The Sabres are last in the NHL with 48 points and have lost four in a row
while picking up only one victory in their past 12 games (1-8-3). That does
have Buffalo as the front runner to land the top pick in the upcoming draft,
which includes a pair of stud prospects in Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.
The idea of securing one of those players was probably behind the reaction of
the fans in Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes. Brian Gionta
scored a power-play goal to tie the game for the Sabres with 3:37 to go in
regulation, but defenseman Mike Weber took a tripping penalty with 30 seconds
on the clock and Arizona’s Sam Gagner tallied 56 seconds into overtime.
Weber heard the cheers and called it “extremely frustrating” and “a whole new
“I’ve always spoken extremely high of the fans,” Weber said. “I don’t even
know if disappointed is the word. … They scored (the first goal) and our
fans are cheering. Late penalty, they cheer. They cheer when they score to win
the game. …
“We don’t want to be here. We understand where we are. We understand what this
team’s doing, what the organization’s doing, the place we put ourselves in,
but I’ve never been a part of something like that where the away team comes
into a home building and (our fans are) cheering for them.”
Tyler Ennis and Rasmus Ristolainen had the other two goals for Buffalo and
goaltender Matt Hackett was shaken up by a collision in the third period but
remained in the game and finished with 38 saves.
Ennis was not as lucky as he exited the contest early with an upper-body
injury and is not expected to play tonight.
Anders Lindback is in line to start for the Sabres in net and is 1-1-0 in two
games versus the Avalanche with a 3.53 GAA and .927 save percentage.