Mar 11, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Drew Stafford (21) celebrates his goal against the Nashville Predators during the first period at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Sabres PreGame Skate #69: Calgary Flames

The Buffalo Sabres begin a three-game Western road trip tonight as they visit the Calgary Flames for a 9 p.m. meeting, marking the Sabres’ first visit to Calgary in over three years.

The last time the Sabres visited the Flames was way back in December 2010. Since then, the teams have faced each other twice, with both meetings in Buffalo.

Most recently, the Flames defeated the Sabres 2-1 in overtime in Buffalo on December 14, 2013.

BEFORE THE GAME

Coming into tonight’s game, the Sabres are on a six-game losing streak, fresh off the heels of a 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday. The Sabres remain in 16th place in the Eastern Conference with a 19-41-8 record and 46 points on the season. The team is 7-21-3 on the road and 3-7-0 in their last ten games overall.

The Sabres are looking for their first win in Calgary since October 18, 2003.

Meanwhile, the Flames are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday. Calgary is 13th in the Western Conference with a 27-34-7 record and 61 points. Their home record is 15-16-3, and the team is 5-5-0 in their last ten overall.

SABRES: INJURIES, INJURIES, AND….. MORE INJURIES

The Sabres will be missing a number of components heading into tonight’s game and the upcoming road trip. Jhonas Enroth is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury, which prompted the recall of Nathan Lieuwen from the AHL’s Rochester Americans.

Also not on the road trip for the Sabres: fowards Zemgus Girgensons, Chris Stewart and Alexander Sulzer. They’re all definitely out for tonight and for the next few games as well.

Michal Neuvirth made the trip and may be available for tonight’s game, but it’s uncertain at this point. If not, Matt Hackett will take his place. It seems likely that Hackett will suit up, as Neuvirth was not on the ice for the Sabres’ morning skate.

Defenseman Tyler Myers is not currently with the Sabres on their road trip. He stayed home to deal with an upper-body injury, so he’ll definitely be out of tonight’s game. However, Ted Nolan said that Myers could join the team at some point on the road trip.

FLAMES ALSO BITTEN BY INJURY BUG

While the Sabres have multiple players missing due to injury, the Flames are also dealing with the same issue.

Goaltender Karri Ramo has been out since February 1 with a knee injury. He’s recently rejoined the team in practice as the third goaltender and could return to action – or at the very least, as backup – soon. Forward David Jones has been out since March 3 and is expected to miss 1-2 more weeks with an upper body injury.

Dennis Wideman and Jiri Hudler have both been out since March 6 with upper- and lower-body injuries, respectively. Finally, Markus Granlund has missed the last three games with a shoulder injury.

Matt Stajan is also out for the Flames, as he is on leave dealing with personal issues since February 28.

The Flames have had 39 players suit up for them this season. That’s third-most in the NHL – behind only the Sabres and the Oilers (42 each).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

For the Sabres, there’s three players to watch in tonight’s game. Center Cody Hodgson has four points (2-2) in four career games against Calgary. Tyler Ennis has 13 points in his last 15 games, including six goals. Finally, Drew Stafford has 16 points in his last 18 games.

Another player to watch for the Sabres: goaltender Nathan Lieuwen, who could make his first NHL start in tonight’s game. Lieuwen stopped all 10 shots he faced during Sunday’s game after he came in when Jhonas Enroth was injured.

With Hudler out, Flames captain Mark Giordano is the team’s leading scorer, with 39 points (11-28) in 50 games. Centers Mike Cammalleri and Sean Monahan each have 19 goals on the season to lead the Flames in that category, while Mikael Backlund is another player to watch. Backlund has 34 points (17-17) in 67 games.

GETTING READY

Tonight’s game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Calgary Flames is a late one, with puck drop scheduled for 9 p.m. This marks the beginning of a five-game road trip for the Sabres, including the next three games to be played on the West coast.

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Calgary Flames

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