NHL Preview 10-17-19: Buffalo Sabres vs Los Angeles Kings

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57  Buffalo Sabres  6  + 1.5 (- 250)

58  Los Angeles Kings  – 126  – 1.5 (+ 207)

After consecutive home defeats and with the Buffalo Sabres coming to town Thursday night, new Los Angeles Kings head coach Todd McLellan is looking for accountability as he tries to rebuild team culture following an abysmal 2018-19 season.

McLellan appeared to send out a challenge this week to Kings winger Adrian Kempe, whose production has continued to diminish in the early part of the season with playing time that has been slashed.

Kempe does not yet have a goal this season, and his ice time has been reduced to less than 12 minutes a game over the past three games. He did not play at all in the third period Tuesday during the Kings’ 2-0 defeat to the Carolina Hurricanes, but he was also getting stitches after he was hit in the face by a puck.

“Quite frankly, he’s got to be way more productive than he’s been,” McLellan told reporters after the Tuesday loss. “I can try to justify his minutes and lack of, but he dictates how much he gets on the ice. At this point, I thought we would get a lot more from him.”

Before losing to Carolina, the Kings also fell 5-2 to the visiting Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday after a promising 7-4 victory over the visiting Nashville Predators on Saturday.

McLellan knows he will need all the production he can get during a meeting with the Sabres, who did not lose in regulation until they dropped a 5-2 decision in a physical road game against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night.

Buffalo will not have to wait long to avenge the defeat and figure out a way to get their power play back on track. The Sabres had converted an NHL-best 42.9 percent of their power plays (9 of 21) to start the season, but they scored on just 1 of 7 against the Ducks.

That one power-play conversion came on a first-period goal from Victor Olofsson, whose production with the man advantage continued. All six of Olofsson’s goals this season, and all eight in his career, have come on the power play. He is the first player in NHL history to score his first eight career goals with a man advantage.

After Buffalo held its opponents to two goals or fewer in four of the first six games, the Ducks broke down the Sabres’ defense to score the final five goals Wednesday, including three in the second period to take the lead for good.

Sabres goalies Linus Ullmark and Carter Hutton have shared time so far this season, but after Ullmark was in goal during the Wednesday defeat, Hutton could be back in net against the Kings. Hutton recorded his first shutout with the Sabres on Monday in a 4-0 victory over the Dallas Stars.

The Sabres have been pleased with the play from both goalies.

“A lot of it is the fact that they both get to play then they both feel like they have a little bit of a rhythm going,” assistant coach Mike Bales, said, according to NHL.com. “One guy’s not going to sit for too long. So, they always feel game-ready because of that, too. It helps a lot.”

Los Angeles Kings: Media Notes

LAK 0 vs. CAR 2 – (10/15/19)
Attendance: 14,219
Venue: STAPLES Center
Jack Campbell stopped 21-of-22 shots in the loss. Trevor Lewis posted a game-high four hits. Jeff Carter fired off a game-high six shots. Drew Doughty played a team-high 22:47 TOI.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS (since 10-1-19):

Overall: 46-58-21
Home: 29-25-9
Road: 17-33-12
Last 10: 5-3-2
Last 10 home: 7-3-0
Last 10 road: 1-6-3
OT Record: 5-2-5

LA Kings Storylines:
The Kings scored the fastest three goals in team-history on Oct. 12 vs. NSH. With the game tied at four, Alex Iafallo scored at the 19:01 mark of the third period. Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty scored at 19:24 and 19:31 respectively, marking three goals in 30 seconds. The previous record was 41 seconds set on March 2, 1989 when Steve Duchesne scored twice, and Wayne Gretzky scored once against St. Louis. Brown and Doughty’s goals were just one second off the record for fastest two goals (six seconds, accomplished

Player Injury Dates Missed Man Games Lost
Derek Forbort Undisclosed Oct. 5-15 6
Games Played G A PTS PIMS
1 Dustin Brown (18) Anze Kopitar (7) Anze Kopitar (10) Anze Kopitar (17) Kyle Clifford (12)
2 Anze Kopitar (17) Dustin Brown (4) Drew Doughty (8) Dustin Brown (11) Dustin Brown (8)
3 Drew Doughty (16) Jeff Carter (3) Dustin Brown (7) Drew Doughty (10) Drew Doughty (8) three times).
Dustin Brown is in his 16th season, one shy of Dave Taylor’s franchise record of 17 seasons with the Kings. On Oct. 8 at CGY, Dustin Brown appeared in his 1,204th game for the Kings (1,118 regular season and 85 playoff), surpassing Dave Taylor’s 1,203 games in the regular season and playoffs (1,111 regular season and 92 playoff).
Since the NHL adopted 3-on-3 overtime the Kings lead the league in wins and in winning percentage.

Buffalo Sabres: Media Notes

Wednesday, October 16
Buffalo 2 at Anaheim 5
Goals: Eichel, Olofsson
Goalie: Ullmark (26 saves/30 shots)
PP: 1/7; PK: 3/4; Shots: Buffalo 33 – Anaheim 31

CURRENT INJURIES – (Man Games Lost: 32)
Player (injury, first game missed) – total games missed
Zach Bogosian (hip, Oct. 3; injured reserve) – 7 games
Matt Hunwick (neck, Oct. 3; injured reserve) – 7 games
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (hip; Oct. 3, injured reserve) – 7 games
Brandon Montour (hand, Oct. 3; injured reserve) – 7 games
Conor Sheary (upper body, Oct. 9) – 4 games

10/13: Recalled F Curtis Lazar from Rochester (AHL)

This is the first of two meetings between the Sabres and Kings this season. Last meeting: Buffalo defeated Los Angeles 4-3 (OT) in Buffalo on Dec. 11, 2018. Next meeting: Saturday, Dec. 21 in Buffalo The Sabres are 5-5-0 in their last 10 games vs. the Kings; 3-6-1 on the road. This is the 126th game all-time between Buffalo and Los Angeles; Buffalo has a 61-45-19 series record. The Sabres are 25-28-10 on the road against the Kings all-time.

Through seven games, the Sabres have already gotten points from 17 different players and had 10 different players score at least one goal.
Jack Eichel (4+6), Victor Olofsson (6+2), Rasmus Dahlin (1+7) and Sam Reinhart (3+4) have all tallied at least a point per game so far this season.
The Sabres enter tonight’s game with the No. 2 power play in the league, converting on a league-high 10 of their 28 power plays this season (35.7%).
With a win tonight, the Sabres would have three straight wins against the Kings for the first time since Oct. 23, 2003 to Jan. 14, 2006 and wins in consecutive visits to Los Angeles for the first time since March 12, 1994 and March 13, 1996.

Linus Ullmark has won all three of his career meetings with Los Angeles, logging a .929 save percentage in those games. Jack Eichel has 10 points (4+6) in five games against the Kings since the beginning of the 2016-17 season, including multi-point outings in each of his last three. Jeff Skinner has totaled 12 points (11+1) in 14 career games against Los Angeles, including nine (8+1) in his last nine and six goals in his last three. Zemgus Girgensons (1+1), Johan Larsson (1+1) and Evan Rodrigues (0+2) each tallied a point in both meetings with the Kings last season. Marco Scandella also enters tonight’s game with points in his last two games against the Kings (1+1). Rasmus Ristolainen has three points (1+2) in his last three games against Los Angeles.

Carter Hutton enters tonight’s game ranked in the top 10 in every major statistical category. He earned his first shutout as a member of the Sabres in his last game on Monday vs. Dallas and enters tonight’s game having played his last 68:36 without allowing a goal. Hutton has won each of his four games this season, tying for the league lead in wins, and now has wins in five straight appearances dating back to last season.

Tonight’s game wraps up Buffalo’s first of 14 sets of back-to-back games this season, which began with a 5-2 loss last night at Anaheim. The Sabres were 7-8-1 in the first game of back-to-back sets and 6-8-2 in the second game last season. Buffalo’s point breakdown in last season’s back-to-back sets was: four points (3), three points (1), two points (6), one point (2) and zero points (4).

All six of Victor Olofsson’s goals this season have come on the power play, tying James Neal for most in the league. He also leads all rookies in goals (6) and points (8), and leads rookie forwards in ice time per game (18:10). Since he made his NHL debut on March 28, 2019 vs. Detroit, no NHL player has scored more power-play goals than Olofsson’s eight in 13 games played. He has set an NHL record by becoming the first player in NHL history to score each of his first seven-plus career goals with a man advantage.

According to NaturalStatTrick.com, the Sabres rank fifth in the league with a high-danger scoring chance percentage of 56.98%, at 5-on-5 through the team’s first seven games.* By this metric, Jeff Skinner leads all Sabres (and is tied for second in the NHL) with 10 high-danger scoring chances during 5-on-5 play. Skinner tied for ninth in the league with 94 high-danger scoring chances last season. Buffalo also ranks in the top three in the league in both total scoring chances against (2nd-fewest) and high-danger chances against (3rd-fewest) per 60 minutes played at 5-on-5.