After being shutout in back-to-back home games the Vancouver Canucks exploded for five goals Friday night defeating the lowly Buffalo Sabres 5-2.
With the win, the Canucks avoided losing a third straight game.
Buffalo has now lost 14 straight overall and 14 consecutive road contests.
Bo Horvat, Yannick Weber and Nick Bonino gave Vancouver a 3-1 lead.
Chris Stewart had both Buffalo goals.
Chris Higgins and Radim Vrbata added third period markers.
Ryan Miller made 20 saves for his first career win against Buffalo. He has now beaten all 30 teams.
Matt Hackett, who was making his first NHL appearance since April 12, 2014, stopped 33 shots in the loss.
Buffalo concluded the month of January with an 0-12-0 record. They have not won since a 4-3 shootout victory over the New York Islanders on Dec. 27. The Sabres last regulation win came on Dec. 11 against the Calgary Flames.
The Sabres last win away from home came Nov. 29 in Montreal. Buffalo’s next game is in Montreal on Tuesday.
Ryan Miller will take on Buffalo for the first time since last season’s trade to St. Louis when his new team, the Vancouver Canucks, host the Sabres tonight at Rogers Arena.
Miller spent the first 11 seasons of his NHL career with Buffalo, going 284-186-57 with a 2.60 goals-against average and 28 shutouts. He also captured the Vezina award in ’10, becoming the first Sabres netminder to do it since Dominik Hasek.
Now a Canuck, Miller has done well throughout the first half of the year. He’s gone 23-11-1 with a 2.33 GAA and .917 save percentage, and sits second in the league with five shutouts.
No word yet on who’ll start for Buffalo this evening.
Pens at Devils: Cory Schneider for New Jersey, Marc-Andre Fleury likely for Pittsburgh.
Blues at ‘Canes: Jake Allen vs. Anton Khudobin
Preds at Avs: Semyon Varlamov for Colorado, no word yet on a Nashville starter.
‘Hawks at Ducks: Corey Crawford for Chicago, Frederik Andersen likely for Anaheim.
Canucks’ Dorsett suffers upper body injury in loss to the Ducks
The Buffalo Sabres were never expected to do much this season and while they had a great stretch from mid-November to mid-December, they did enter the All-Star break in last place after losing 11 straight.
Since before the season even began they’ve had to live with accusations that they’re tanking in order to land Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. Both are considered to be players you could potentially build a franchise around. Still, the idea that they would intentionally try to slip into last place is insulting to Sabres head coach Ted Nolan.
“I’ve been around with the game for a long time,” Nolan told ESPN.com. “I’ve never been associated with anyone who said, ‘Let’s lose this game.’ Hey, winning is hard. There’s no sense in planning not to.”
The accusations have their root less in what Nolan or his players have done though and more with how the team was assembled in the first place. The Sabres dealt key veterans like Jason Pominville and Ryan Miller last season, leaving the squad underwhelming on paper. If trading away top veterans in exchange for picks and/or prospects is what it takes to be accused of tanking though, then Sabres president Ted Black thinks it’s become shorthand for rebuilding.
“You diminish yourself significantly in the present,” Black said of trading veterans. “But the hope is that it’s the future. We’ve gone through a dismantling. Are we trying to tank? No. But the performance is going to slip when you trade All-Stars for picks. It’s a consequence of a rebuild that’s going to require patience and time.”
Above all, captain Brian Gionta doesn’t want his teammates to get the idea that losing is acceptable under any circumstances.
“You don’t want guys coming in after a loss and feeling like we made strides,” Gionta said. “This game is all about winning. Part of the turnaround is changing that culture, the feel in the room, what’s acceptable and what’s not.”