After posting a league-high 25 road wins last season, the Buffalo Sabres have struggled as visitors in 2007-08. Continuing their domination of the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center would be a positive start to a three-game road swing through California.
The Sabres seek their sixth straight win in Anaheim as they meet the inconsistent Ducks on Wednesday night.
Since a 5-2 loss in January 1997, the Sabres have outscored the Ducks 23-7 during their winning streak in Anaheim. This also will be Buffalo’s first visit there since scoring four third-period goals to rally for a 5-2 win on Oct. 24, 2003.
A 3-2 road defeat to Ottawa on Nov. 15 dropped Buffalo to 6-10-1 overall. The Sabres have since won six of seven—including victories at Montreal and Washington—yet are still in last place in the Northeast, 10 points behind first-place Ottawa.
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle told the team’s official Web site that they won’t take Buffalo lightly despite its 4-6-1 road record.
“I think Buffalo’s playing the game at a very high pace,” Carlyle said. “They’ve got a lot of speed in their lineup. We know they are a very dangerous hockey club. They are playing much better of late.”
Buffalo (12-11-1), which also will visit Los Angeles and San Jose, is coming off its largest margin of victory this season. Ales Kotalik scored twice, Jaroslav Spacek added a goal and two assists, and the Sabres scored four third-period goals in their 8-1 rout of Carolina on Saturday.
“You don’t expect games like that to happen,” said Buffalo’s Brian Campbell, who had two assists. “It was a bonus, obviously, and guys deserved it. It’s something we can build off of.”
Two months into their reign as defending Stanley Cup champions, the Ducks continue search for consistency. A 4-0 loss to Edmonton on Sunday capped a home-and-home series sweep for the Oilers and handed Anaheim (12-12-4) its third loss in four games overall.
“We’re the only guys, the guys in this room, that are going to turn this around,” Ducks forward Rob Niedermayer said. “We just have to stay positive and work our way out of this.”
The Ducks have only one home win in regulation in their last 10 games, posting a 4-3-3 mark. Overall, Anaheim is 8-4-3 at home in 2007-08 after going 26-6-9 there last season.
This contest also will be the first NHL matchup between brothers Ryan and Drew Miller.
Ryan, the Sabres’ starting goaltender, won a career-high 40 games in 2006-07, and is 5-1-0 with a 1.84 goals-against average since Nov. 16. Overall this season, he’s 10-10-1 with a 2.52 GAA.
Drew Miller, a rookie left wing for Anaheim, has just two goals and two assists in 19 games but hasn’t registered a point in six straight.
“It’s going to be weird,” Drew Miller said. “I want to score on him and he wants to stop me. That’s the name of the game. He’s definitely a great goalie. Any way to score would be great. I know if I get shots on the net and I don’t score, he’s going to chirp for awhile.”
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