After snapping a brief slide, the Buffalo Sabres look to stay on track when they visit the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.
The Sabres are coming off a 7-3 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, a victory that ended an 0-3-1 skid in which Buffalo had been outscored 20-7, including three straight games with at least five goals against.
“I’m sure everyone would say it: We kind of needed that one,” forward Casey Mittelstadt said after the win. “It’s nice. I think a lot of guys had goals and assists. Coming off the break, it’s nice to get a win and get things going here. Hopefully we can get a little hot.”
Second periods have been an issue of late for Buffalo, which has allowed at least three goals against in the middle frame in each of its past three games — including all three of the Ducks’ goals on Wednesday. But coach Don Granato liked what he saw as his players responded to seeing their 2-0 lead turn into a 3-2 deficit. They ultimately tied the game and pulled away for the victory against Anaheim.
“Their legs are better. Their timing is better,” Granato said. “It felt like we were back in a rhythm as far as five guys playing together one shift to the next shift to the next shift. I know they were very excited about that feeling.”
Mittelstadt has quietly been enjoying a solid season. After an injury-plagued 2021-22 campaign in which he only played 40 games, the 24-year-old has suited up for every game this season. He has already set new career highs in assists and points, and is four goals shy of setting a personal best in that category.
The Sharks will kick off a seven-game homestand with Saturday’s contest, but home has been anything but sweet. San Jose ranks last in the NHL with a 5-13-7 record at home. The five wins are four behind the next-worst home mark held by the Ducks.
“I know our home record isn’t anywhere near where we need it to be and our road record is better. Believe me, we sit and look at it,” coach David Quinn said recently. “I don’t think we play much differently at home. There have been some frustrating losses during the course of the season, but unfortunately, more have happened at home than on the road.”
The Sharks are 3-3-0 in their past six games, with all three victories — against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals — coming on the road.
They’re coming off a 2-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday, when they led 1-0 lead after two periods and allowed the go-ahead goal with 18 seconds left in the game.
Alexander Barabanov has been on a roll of late for the Sharks. He scored the lone goal in the loss to Vegas and has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his past six games after notching just one point, an assist, in his previous seven contests.
“He’s a really smart player,” Quinn said of the 5-foot-10, 195-pound forward. “He’s strong on his skates for a small guy. He makes real good decisions with the puck. … He generates a lot of offense. When the puck’s on his stick, good things usually happen.”
–Field Level Media