Sabres start road trip tonight against Avalanche

February 26, 2020 - 12:48 pm

The Sabres begin their four-game Western Conference road trip tonight in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche.

Buffalo will have newly acquired winger Wayne Simmonds in the lineup tonight at Pepsi Center against Colorado. The veteran forward joined the blue and gold at practice yesterday 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 this 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 February 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 as the trade deadline. 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 we get better chances offensively, too.” Rasmus Dahlin has chipped in eight points, including seven assists since February 1st, which included a five-game point streak that was snapped Sunday against Winnipeg.

The sophomore rear guard has 37 points ( 4 goals, 33 assists) in 52 games this season. The Avalanche’s 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 goals, 33 assists) in 53 games this season to rank tied for second on the Avs in scoring.

Colorado has won three straight games, including back-to-back nights against Anaheim and Los Angeles. 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 eight o’clock tonight on the flagship home of the Sabres Radio Network – WGR Sports Radio 550, with pregame coverage starting at seven p.m. Brian Koziol and Paul Hamilton will take you through the pregame where you will hear from Krueger, Simmonds, and Ristolainen. Don’t forget with tonight’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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