Sabres start Western road trip on Wednesday in Colorado

Buffalo has won five of their last six games heading into the road swing

Pat Malacaro
February 26, 2020 - 12:48 pm
Sabres-Avalanche

Photo: Isaiah J. Downing - USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Sabres begin their four-game Western Conference road trip on Wednesday night in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche.

Buffalo will have newly acquired winger Wayne Simmonds in the lineup at the Pepsi Center against Colorado. The veteran forward joined the blue and gold at practice on Tuesday and was on a line with Jeff Skinner and Marcus Johansson.

However, Dominik Kahun will not be in the lineup according to head coach Ralph Krueger. Kahun did skate Wednesday morning and his status for Friday will be determined later. He had been dealing with a lower-body injury when acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins two days ago.

The Avalanche handed the Sabres a crushing 6-1 defeat at KeyBank Center back on Feb. 4. Sam Reinhart scored the lone Buffalo goal with one second to go in the first period. Colorado proceeded to score four goals in the second period to coast to the victory.

Injuries have mounted for Colorado since then, forcing general manager Joe Sakic to make several moves at the trade deadline. Goalie Philipp Grubauer is dealing with a lower-body injury and will not play. As a result, Michael Hutchinson was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday to back up Pavel Francouz. Grubauer made 23 saves in the win in Buffalo earlier this month.

Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen each scored in the victory over the blue and gold, but are out due to injury. Despite that, Rasmus Ristolainen understands that, “they’re a dangerous [team], lots of speed and dynamic team so we’ve gotta match that.” One way to do that is have the defense continue to be as aggressive as they have been since the beginning of February.

Ristolainen has recorded six assists in his last five games, including a pair in Pittsburgh last weekend. One reason for the extra offense, according to Ristolainen, is that, “overall as a team, we play tight, aggressive defense and we get better chances offensively, too.” Rasmus Dahlin has chipped in eight points, including seven assists, since Feb. 1, which included a five-game point streak that was snapped this past Sunday against the Winnipeg Jets.

The sophomore rear guard has 37 points (4+33) in 52 games this season. The Avalanche defense is also very active and has contributed heavily to their 79-point total this season. Cale Makar has been in the NHL Rookie of the Year conversation all year long with his efforts on the blue line and with the offense he has contributed. The 21-year-old has recorded 45 points (12+33) in 53 games this season to rank tied for second on the Avalanche in scoring.

Colorado has won three straight games, including back-to-back nights against the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. Defenseman Ryan Graves scored the lone goal in regulation for the team in their 2-1 shootout win against the Kings four days ago.

The puck drops just after 8 o’clock on the flagship home of the Sabres Radio Network – WGR Sports Radio 550 The Paul William Beltz Pregame Show starts at 7 p.m. with Brian Koziol and Paul Hamilton, where you will also hear from Krueger, Simmonds, and Ristolainen.

Don’t forget with Wednesday’s game being broadcast on the NBC Sports Network, the only place to hear Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray is on WGR.

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