Sabres-Canucks Preview

The Associated Press

Vancouver's Roberto Luongo has been outstanding between the pipes lately at Rogers Arena.

Buffalo's Ryan Miller has been exceptional in goal regardless of the venue.

Luongo and Miller will likely be in net Saturday night in Vancouver as the Western Conference-leading Canucks go for a fifth straight home win in a matchup with a Sabres team coming off back-to-back shutout victories.

After closing a six-game road trip with a couple of tough losses, Vancouver (41-16-8) opened a season-high seven-game homestand with a 2-0 win over St. Louis on Thursday. Alex Burrows scored his 23rd goal early in the third period, Chris Higgins added an empty-netter and Luongo stopped 29 shots to record his third shutout.

The victory prevented the Blues from leaping over the Canucks in the race for the Presidents' Trophy. It also helped Vancouver regain some confidence after it allowed third-period comebacks in Sunday's 3-2 overtime defeat to Dallas and Tuesday's 2-1 shootout loss in Phoenix.

"You want to be able to close games out," Luongo said.

He's had no trouble helping the Canucks protect leads on home ice, posting a 0.98 goals-against average in winning the team's last four games at Rogers Arena. The Canucks are 7-0-1 in eight home games since Jan. 21 and haven't allowed a power-play goal in the last six.

They've outscored the Sabres 13-4 to win all three meetings in Vancouver since a 1-all tie Oct. 29, 2002.

Although Buffalo (29-27-8) hasn't won in Vancouver since 1999, it likely isn't too intimidated considering how well Miller is playing.

After stopping 43 shots in Wednesday's 2-0 win in Anaheim, Miller made 39 saves in Thursday's 1-0 victory over San Jose to post shutouts on consecutive nights for the second time in his career.

"It's unbelievable to see a guy be this good in net," forward Tyler Ennis said. "You never think a guy can be that good and make that many saves, but he does."

Miller is 5-0-1 with a 1.14 GAA in Buffalo's last six games, helping the team stay in the mix for one of the East's final playoff spots. However, he's lost his only two career starts in Vancouver, allowing three goals in each.

Drew Stafford provided Miller with all the offense he needed Thursday, scoring his 13th goal and third in three games.

Jason Pominville, who leads Buffalo with 23 goals and 59 points, is looking to avoid going a season-high sixth straight game without a goal.

New teammate Cody Hodgson might have some insight on how to beat Luongo, who is 4-1-0 with a 2.21 GAA in his last five starts versus the Sabres.

Hodgson had 16 goals and 17 assists in 63 games this season for the Canucks before being traded to Buffalo on Monday.

Vancouver acquired forwards Zack Kassian and Sammy Pahlsson and defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani from the Sabres, and coach Alain Vigneault was impressed with their home debuts.

"They brought exactly what those guys can bring," he said. "They brought a lot of energy and the opportunity was there to wear down their players, especially their defense. They finished their checks. So I really liked what those guys did."

This will be Vancouver's first game against the Sabres since a 4-3 overtime loss in Buffalo on Nov. 15, 2010.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin each had three points in that game but have been struggling. Daniel has a team-high 28 goals but has none in the past four games with one assist. Henrik has gone pointless in four straight but leads the Canucks with 66.

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