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Game Preview: Vancouver Canucks at Buffalo Sabres

Ryan Miller makes his first start in Buffalo since joining the Canucks last season.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks (6-3-4) at Buffalo Sabres (5-8-0)

Time 10:00 AM PT TV Sportsnet
H2H (2014/15) Split 1 game each Last Meeting 6-3 Sabres - February 26, 2015
The Enemy Die By The Blade Scoring Leaders

VAN: Daniel Sedin (4-6-10)

BUF: Ryan O'Reily (4-9-13)

Canucks Category Sabres
6-3-4 Season Record 5-8-0
16 Points 10
T-1st Division Position T-6th
Lost 1 Streak Lost 1
2.85 Goals For Per Game 2.15
2.23 Goals Against Per Game 3.00
17.5 Power Play % 21.7
88.6 Penalty Kill % 74.2
29.7 Shots Per Game 32.7
28.3 Shots Against Per Game 26.8


Last Game at a Glance

The Canucks fell behind 3-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins before making a late comeback attempt. Daniel Sedin got the Canucks on the board with 6:01 to play before Jannik Hansen made it a one-goal game with 67 seconds remaining. Unfortunately, the Canucks ran out of steam as the Penguins held on to extend their winning streak to five games.

It was Vancouver's first regulation loss in their last six games, and just their third regulation loss of the season so far.

Ryan Miller Returns to Buffalo

Today's game will mark Ryan Miller's first start in Buffalo since joining the Canucks prior to last season. When the Canucks traveled to Buffalo in February last season, Miller had just gone down with his injury suffered against the Islanders.

Miller's teammates have spoken on how they know this is a big game for their goalie, so you can be sure they'll be coming out to play with some intesity. Anytime you return to a place where you spent a significant amount of time of your career at (In this case, Miller's entire professional career spanning over a decade), there are bound to be some emotions when you hit the ice back there for the first time.

Canucks Lineup Notes

Based on the lines from practice, Sven Baertschi will return to the lineup today. He'll be on the third line with Bo Horvat and Jannik Hansen. Baertschi will take the lineup spot of Adam Cracknell, who was on the fourth line with Derek Dorsett and Jared McCann against the Penguins.

Vancouver's practice in Buffalo on Friday was fully attended.

Canucks Finish October Atop the West

The Canucks finished the first month of the season with a 5-2-4 record. Their only regulation losses came against St. Louis and Washington. Vancouver still has not lost a game in regulation on the road yet this season.

Some areas of strength for the Canucks during October were their penalty kill and performance in the face-off circle. The Canucks killed off 90% of their penalties, good for third in the league. Vancouver won 52.2% of their face-offs, which ranked fifth in the league. Henrik Sedin led the Canucks in face-off win percentage at 57.2%.

And how did the kids do in their first month in the NHL? Jared McCann scored five goals while Jake Virtanen proved to be a physical presence, racking up 29 hits. Virtanen's 29 hits led the team while McCann is currently Vancouver's top goal scorer, both reasons why they're still around.


Last Game at a Glance

On Thursday, the Sabres fell 4-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Entering Thursday's game, the Sabres had started to heat up, winning three of their last four games.

The Lightning jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, and that's all goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy would need to lead his team to the win. Vasilevskiy made 30 saves, including stopping all seven shots he faced with the Sabres on the power play.

It was the first time this season the Lightning led after the first period.

Linus Ullmark got the start in net for Buffalo, but was replaced by Chad Johnson after the first period when the Lightning built their three-goal cushion.

Jack Eichel scored Buffalo's lone goal of the game in the second period before the Lightning cemented the win with an empty net goal.

Sabres Line Notes

On Friday, Jack Eichel had some new linemates at practice. Buffalo's prized rookie was skating with Johan Larsson and Jamie McGinn.

Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo remains day-to-day as he is out with an upper body injury.

Chad Johnson will likely get the start in net for the Sabres. Johnson faced just ten shots in net over two periods against the Lightning, so he should still be fresh and ready to go against the Canucks. If Johnson does start, it'll be his first appearance against the Canucks since 2013 when he was a member of the Boston Bruins.

Offensive Struggles Continue

The Sabres are struggling to score goals this year, and unfortunately for them, that's nothing new. The Sabres are averaging just 2.15 goals per game, good enough for 28th in the NHL. Buffalo has ranked dead last in the league in scoring each of the past two years.

Dan Bylsma gave a pretty standard reply when asked about Buffalo's scoring struggles this season, saying that the opportunities have been there and the team just needs to do a better job of executing.

Sabres to Honor Military on Saturday

The Sabres announced that Saturday's game against the Canucks would be their annual Millitary Appreciation event. The team will be holding several tributes throughout the afternoon, and captain Brian Gionta will be hosting military members in his suite. Matt Moulson and Mike Weber will also be hosting veterans in their suites as well.  The Buffalo Sabres Sled Vets will be on the ice for the anthems and will take part in the ceremonial puck drop. The Sled Vets are sled hockey team made up entirely of veterans. After the game, the Sled Vets will play a game against the Ohio Warriors, a military veterans team based out of Columbus.