The Sabres look for their seventh straight win against the Flyers

November 21, 2018 - 1:05 pm
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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - What a difference a year makes. Last season for the Thanksgiving Eve game, the Sabres were riding a six-game losing streak. This season, they come in against Philadelphia with a six-game winning streak.

Buffalo has had to come from behind in all six wins, including a 4-1 deficit in Pittsburgh. Overall, the Sabres have won seven-of-eight, if you include a 9-2 victory over Ottawa and a 3-1 loss in Madison Square Garden when the Sabres played very well but ran into a hot Henrik Lundqvist.

The one thing that hasn’t helped the winning streak is the power play. In the last seven games, it has gone 1-for-17. The penalty kill has been perfect in 11-out-of-13 games. During that time, the Sabres have killed 33-of-36 penalties.

Jeff Skinner is third in the NHL with 14 goals. His 11 even-strength goals leads the league.

Carter Hutton gets the call in net. In his last five games, he’s 5-0-0 with a 1.99 goals-against and .936 save percentage.

Buffalo is making it more difficult to play at home with a 6-2-1 record. Overall, the Sabres hold down third place in the Atlantic Division, two in back of Toronto and one behind Tampa Bay. Buffalo leads Montreal by two and Boston by three.

Tage Thompson netted his first goal as a Sabre in Pittsburgh. Thompson sat for seven out of nine games, but tonight will be his sixth straight in the lineup. Phil Housley said it was important to let him work things out, “When he took a step back there he really got a different perspective on the game, when he got back in, we knew he was out for a considerable amount of time, so we had to be patient, but each and every game he has gotten better.

You might think Housley is just saying that because Thompson scored in that game, but Housley explained, “I know he scored in that game, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the way he attacked the game, the way he’s using his speed and using his size to protect the puck down low.

“His wall play has been pretty good, especially on the left side, but I like the way he’s been shooting the puck now and he’s seemed to have gained more confidence each and every game.”

Thompson played 41 games in St. Louis last season and scored three goals and six assists for nine points. After getting his first with the Sabres he said, “It’s just good to get that monkey off your back, it takes a little pressure off you and it allows you to relax and just kind of get that confidence back and just play your game.

“I think I’ve been playing well the last few games and it’s starting to click for me and I’ve just got to keep it going.”

Kyle Okposo has been mentoring Casey Mittelstadt this year and Thompson has had a veteran help him too, “I’ve had a few talks with a few of them like Eichs, Skins and Okie. Everyone in here has been through this same thing, so all of them have been great with us, me, Ras and Mitsy, so it’s been a really welcoming environment. It’s unfortunate that the fans really don’t get the chance to see it inside the room because it’s such a good feeling in here and you’ve seen that translate onto the ice.

“For me, Skinny has taken me out to dinner a few times, so he’s probably been the biggest one for me.”

Marco Scandella tried to take the morning skate, but he limped off before it was over. He is day-to-day. Nate Beaulieu will take his spot. Patrik Berglund has developed an upper-body injury. Phil Housley said he will be examined later on Wednesday. Evan Rodrigues will replace Berglund.

Housley said Scott Wilson has been progressing well and will resume skating soon.

Philadelphia holds down sixth place in the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers are six points out of first place and two out of last. The Flyers have lost three in a row and had only scored one goal in two games before getting five in a loss to Tampa Bay.

Alex Lyon gets the call in goal. He’s a college free agent out of Yale who has played 11 NHL games. It’s his first game this year, but last season he was 4-2-1 with a 2.75 goals-against and .905 save percentage. Buffalo has only played against one starting goalie in the last five games including this one.

Claude Giroux leads the Flyers with 24 points in 20 games. He has 17 assists while Jack Eichel is sixth in the NHL with 19.

Brian Koziol has pre-game starting at 6:30 when he’ll be joined by Phil Housley, Jason Pominville and Tage Thompson.

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