|4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET20:00 BRT, October 22, 2019
KeyBank Center, Buffalo, New York Attendance: 15,876
East-leading Sabres host surging Sharks
San Jose Sharks at Buffalo Sabres
- The Sabres won Saturday's opener of this home-and-home set, 4-3 in San Jose, as Zemgus Girgensons scored the tie-breaking goal with 7:45 remaining. The series now shifts to Buffalo, where the Sabres are 18-2-1 all-time against the Sharks.
- With Saturday's victory, the Sabres are off to their best start since the 2009-10 team started 8-1-1. They've won their first four at home for the first time since 2006-07, and the team hasn't opened with five consecutive victories in Buffalo since 1984-85.
- Jeff Skinner scored Saturday as the Sabres improved to 25-6-4 (.771) in games he has scored in since he joined the team prior to last season -- the 11th best record for a team by a skater with at least 30 games with a goal. When Skinner hasn't scored since the start of last season, Buffalo is 15-34-7 (.330) -- tied for the fourth-worst record for a team by a non-goalie with a minimum of 30 scoreless games.
- Carter Hutton will be in goal for the first time since stopping 47 shots in Thursday's 3-0 win at Los Angeles. Hutton, the first Buffalo goalie to win his first five starts since Jhonas Enroth won his first six in 2011-12, leads the league in both save percentage (.953) and GAA (1.39). His .945 save percentage and 1.74 GAA in eight career starts against the Sharks are each his third-best marks against any opponent.
- San Jose killed off all for Buffalo power plays Saturday to improve its penalty-kill percentage to a league-leading 92.9. This is the first time the Sharks have killed at least 90 percent of their penalties with a minimum of 25 times short-handed in their first eight games since the 2001-02 team killed off 92.7 percent of its opponents' 41 power plays.
- Timo Meier scored Saturday to extend his point streak against the Sabres to five games (two goals, four assists) -- his longest point streak against any team in his career. Prior to Meier, the last San Jose skater with a five-game point streak vs. Buffalo was Owen Nolan from 1999-2001.
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First-year Buffalo coach Ralph Krueger is pleased with the start of his Sabres on the ice, especially after a successful West Coast road trip.
Buffalo returns home Tuesday to face the San Jose Sharks, concluding the first-ever home-and-home series between the teams in an odd, three-day journey that began in northern California and will end in western New York.
The Sabres left California after taking four of six points, opening with a 5-2 loss in Anaheim then beating Los Angeles (3-0) and San Jose (4-3).
Krueger, 60, replaced former Buffalo bench boss Phil Housley, who was fired after two seasons. Krueger returned to the NHL after last coaching in the league in 2013.
In addition to the Sabres' hot start -- they lead the Eastern Conference with 15 points -- the new coach said he likes the comradery off the ice, too.
"We speak about being connected on the ice, but you could really feel this group was connected off the ice," Krueger said after the road trip. "Just coming together here the last couple of days, lots of time together but nothing but a small picture in our heads and a hunger to continue to learn.
"That's what we're going to continue to do."
Three different lines contributed to Buffalo's 4-3 win in San Jose on Saturday, but it was the group consisting of Kyle Okposo, Johan Larsson and Zemgus Girgensons that provided the winning marker.
Goalie Carter Hutton set a franchise record Thursday with a 47-save shutout of the Kings. The previous Sabres record for saves in a regular-season shutout was 44 by Chad Johnson in December 2015.
The Sharks, meanwhile, have been playing better hockey lately regardless of location -- especially considering a woeful start that saw them drop their first four games.
Left winger Evander Kane became the first Shark ever to record a hat trick in the first period in the team's 5-2 victory last Wednesday, denying the visiting Carolina Hurricanes their franchise-best start to a season.
Even after the Buffalo defeat, San Jose coach Peter DeBoer had mostly positives to say about the Sharks, who have three wins in their last four matches.
"I liked our resiliency and thought we battled all night," DeBoer said. "When I look at our seven or eight games we've played, that's one of the better 60-minute efforts.
"I think we're getting better. I can tell you I like where our team's at now better than I did two weeks ago. Our game's starting to look more recognizable."
Defenseman Erik Karlsson moved his assist streak to four straight games with a pair of helpers against Buffalo, and center Tomas Hertl is riding a three-game goal-scoring streak.
The Sharks may be jelling more due to the signing of team icon Patrick Marleau, who joined the team in Chicago in its first win of the season on Oct. 10.
Marleau, 40, scored twice in the 5-4 victory over the Blackhawks and added an assist in the next game against Calgary. He has three points in his four games played.
San Jose announced following Monday's practice that it had recalled defenseman Trevor Carrick and forward Jonny Brodzinski from AHL affiliate San Jose.
--Field Level Media
Updated October 21, 2019