Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Buffalo Sabres hosting the San Jose Sharks at 7:30 p.m. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:
• BUF is looking for back-to-back wins tonight for the first time since a 3-game win streak last Feb. 25-28, after beating TOR, 6- 2, at home on Saturday. The Sabres have the worst record in the NHL this season and had a league-low 21 wins last season, but two of those victories last season and one of their victories this season have come against the Sharks.
• BUF won 2-1 at SJ on Oct. 25 – its first of two regulation wins this season – when C Cody Hodgson and LW Nicolas Deslauriers scored back-to-back goals a little more than two minutes apart in the third period.
• BUF has a 7-game win streak vs. SJ and is 15-1-0 all-time vs. SJ at home. SJ last won at BUF on Dec. 2, 2005.
• BUF has an NHL-worst mark of 1.47 goals/game, but has scored 9 goals in its last two games.
• In their 6-2 win against the Maple Leafs on Saturday, it was the first time the Sabres scored 4 or more goals since their 4-2 win over the Sharks on Feb. 28 last season. Per Elias, the Sabres’ 40-game span with less than 4 goals scored was the third longest streak of its kind in NHL history. Only the Pittsburgh Pirates (45 games) and Chicago Blackhawks (60 games) recorded longer streaks, both of which came during the 1928-29 season.
• SJ has gone 6-8-1 in its last 15 games after starting the season 4-0-1. The Sharks are 3-3-0 on their current 7-game road trip – tied for their longest trip of the season – and will end their road trip tonight. After tonight, they will have played 16 of their first 21 games on the road, the highest percentage (76%) of road games in the first quarter of a season in franchise history. They will also play 7 straight on the road from March 17-29.
• Despite G Alex Stalock (knee) being placed on the injured reserve last Wednesday, SJ has allowed just 3 goals in their last 3 games after giving up an average of 2.8 goals/game through their first 17 games of the season.
• G Troy Grosenick, called up after Stalock’s injury, recorded 45 saves in his first career start on Sunday, as SJ beat CAR 2-0. Grosenick is the first goaltender in Sharks franchise history and 24th ever to record a shutout in his NHL debut and his 45 saves are a franchise record for an NHL debut.
• Grosenick, who led Union College to its first Frozen Four in 2012 (Union College lost in first round), went undrafted and was still a free agent as of April 2013.
• G Antti Niemi, who has a 2.61 GAA this season, started the two games prior to Grosenick and could also start tonight.
• 33rd regular-season meeting and second of two meetings this season between SJ and BUF.
• BUF won the first meeting 2-1 at SJ on Oct. 25.
• BUF has won the last 7 straight meetings with SJ, outscoring the Sharks 23-3 in those games.
• BUF leads all-time series 21-6-5.
• SJ: C Joe Thornton has 35 points in 46 career games vs. BUF, including 10 points on the power-play.
• SJ: G Antti Niemi has a 0-3-1 record, 3.23 GAA and .882 SV% vs. BUF in 4 career starts.
• BUF: RW Chris Stewart leads the Sabres with 10 points in 20 career games vs. SJ.
• BUF: LW Matt Moulson has 5 points in his last 6 games vs. SJ, including the game-winning goal the last time the teams met in BUF on Feb. 28.
SHARKS TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
• C Joe Thornton, the first overall draft pick in 1997 by the Bruins, leads the Sharks this season with 18 points (7G-11A) and is riding a 6-game point streak. He had been the Sharks’ captain since the start of the 2010-11 season, but lost his captaincy this summer because SJ was in the process of becoming a “tomorrow team.”
• SJ has 4 alternate captains this season: Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
• D Brent Burns, who opened the season with a 5-game point streak, is second among all NHL defensemen with 17 points and is tied for the second-most points on SJ. Burns returned to his original home on the blue line this season after scoring 22 goals as a forward last season.
• C Joe Pavelski, a member of the last two U.S. Olympic teams, has a team-high 8 goals this season after scoring a career-high 41 goals last season. He’s the other player tied with Burns at 17 points.
• C Logan Couture had 16 points in his first 15 games this season, but he has 0 points in his last 5 games.
• Earlier this season, Couture told the San Jose Mercury News he was disappointed about not being named one of the Sharks’ four alternate captains: “I think it’s human nature to be disappointed. Any player would be in this situation. But you can’t let it affect you, and I won’t. I’m going to come in and do the exact same thing I would if I had a letter or didn’t.”
• G Antti Niemi, who won a Stanley Cup with CHI in his first full NHL season in 2009-10, has started 14 of SJ’s 20 games this season, posting a 7-6-1 record with a 2.61 GAA. But he is 1-4-0 in his last five games.
SABRES TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
• C Zemgus Girgensons and C Tyler Ennis are tied for the team lead with 6 goals apiece and both players have 4 points each in the last two games. Girgensons, 20 years old, is the highest-drafted Latvian player in NHL history, having been picked 14th overall by the Sabres in the 2012 draft.
• LW Matt Moulson had 3 points in his last game after having just 5 points through his first 18 games of the season. Moulson signed a five-year, $25 million deal with the Sabres over the summer.
• Moulson on his contract with BUF: “I don’t think I’ve ever had a multi-year deal like that. So maybe that’s in the back of your mind trying to live up to that. You just realize you have to go out there and play hockey. I think I found that confidence again.”
• Moulson is married to Alicia Backman, whose sister, Jaclyn, is married to Kings G Jonathan Quick, making the two hockey players brothers-in-law.
• RW Drew Stafford, the longest-tenured Sabre, is tied for the team-lead with 12 points (4G-8A). When Stafford was 21 and starting his career, the Sabres were a Presidents’ Trophy team (2006-07 season). But now, at age 29, he’s in the final year of his contract with a franchise that finished with its worst record in 42 years last season.
• RW Brian Gionta has 3 assists through 19 games, but has yet to score a goal in his first season with BUF – the longest goal drought of his career. Gionta scored 20+ goals seven times in his 12 seasons with MTL/NJ.
• G Michal Neuvirth and G Jhonas Enroth have split time in the net this season. Neuvirth is 3-5-1 in 9 starts and Enroth is 1-8-1 in 10 starts. Neuvirth, who is expected to start tonight, won his first career game as a Sabre on Oct. 25 against the Sharks, making 29 saves in the process.
]• SJ: C Joe Thornton is 42nd on the all-time career points list with 1,212 – just 4 behind Jeremy Roenick, who is tied with Larry Murphy for 40th with 1,216 points. Thornton and NJ RW Jaromir Jagr are the only two active players to have recorded 1,200 or more points.
• BUF: Allowing an NHL-worst 3.53 goals/game. Third-period woes: BUF has allowed an NHLworst 28 goals in the third period, while SJ has allowed 22, which is 4th worst in the NHL.
• SJ: Alex Stalock (knee) was placed on injured reserve last Wednesday. There is no timetable in place for his return yet.
• BUF: D Josh Gorges (lower-body) is “weeks away” from returning to the Sabres’ lineup, according to Sabres GM Tim Murray.