Preview: Flames vs. Sabres
Buffalo has been unable to take advantage of an extended stretch of home games. A visit from the Calgary Flames might provide a good opportunity for the Sabres to conclude their homestand on a positive note.
The Sabres look to avoid a third consecutive loss by continuing their home dominance of the Flames on Friday night.
Buffalo (6-5-0) appeared to have some momentum after a 4-1-0 road trip, but instead has lost three of four on a five-game homestand, with each defeat decided by one goal.
The Sabres, 2-4-0 at First Niagara Center this season after going 21-16-4 there in 2010-11, gave up all three goals in the first period Wednesday against Philadelphia for its second consecutive 3-2 loss.
"It's things we talked about throughout the first part of the week, about being better with the puck, and we weren't," said Sabres captain Jason Pominville, who has three goals and three assists on the homestand. "The message is there, we have to go out and do it."
The Sabres have executed much better while going 7-0-0 with a tie at home versus Calgary since a 3-1 loss March 15, 1996. Buffalo has won each of the last two meetings in western New York in a shootout, the most recent 2-1 on Nov. 13, 2009.
Ryan Miller has allowed three total goals while earning the wins in both of the last two home matchups versus Calgary, but will need to be better Friday after he was pulled in the first period against the Flyers for allowing three goals on 11 shots.
The Sabres are grateful that leading scorer Thomas Vanek will be on the ice after he missed about 20 minutes Wednesday to receive stitches for a gash above his right eye. Vanek has eight goals and eight assists this season.
Though the Flames have struggled in Buffalo, they beat the Sabres 5-2 at home in the teams' most recent meeting Dec. 27.
Calgary (5-5-1) opened its three-game road trip Thursday with a 4-1 victory at Detroit. Jarome Iginla had two goals and an assist as the Flames won for the third time in four games.
Iginla doubled his previous goal total for the season, scoring for the first time since Oct. 20.
"It feels good, for sure," he said. "To see that first one go in on the power play - it's been a little while."
Iginla scored against the Sabres last season, but has gone without a point in his last three games at Buffalo.
The Flames allowed their first power-play goal in 14 chances on the road this season when Detroit's Dan Cleary scored in the second period Thursday.
Miikka Kiprusoff stopped the Red Wings' other 28 shots to earn the win. He is 3-1-2 with a 1.79 lifetime goals-against average versus the Sabres.
Buffalo will be without forward Patrick Kaleta, who was suspended four games by the NHL after he went head-first into a crowd of players during Wednesday's loss and struck Philadelphia's Jakub Voracek in the chest and face. Kaleta has one goal in 11 games this season.