Sun, 05 Feb 2023

Avalanche aim to extend hex over Sabres

Field Level Media
01 Dec 2022, 22:19 GMT+10

It's been more than a month since the Colorado Avalanche endured back-to-back defeats.

And it's been nearly five years since they've lost to the Buffalo Sabres.

Looking to rebound from their worst loss of the season, the visiting Avalanche will aim for their eighth consecutive victory over theSabres on Thursday night.

Colorado had won three straight on the road and was coming off a 4-1 home victory over the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars when it was roughed up during a 5-0 loss at Winnipeg on Tuesday. The Avalanche recorded 40 shots on goal but were blanked for the second time this season.

"We've got to look at what we did wrong," Colorado forward Andrew Cogliano said. "They were better. ... We've got to be better. At the end of the day, not good enough from us."

Though the Avalanche are playing without several key injured contributors, including forwards Evan Rodrigues (lower body), Valeri Nichushkin (ankle) and Gabriel Landeskog (knee), they have managed to hang near the top of the Central. Colorado, which went 8-3-0 in November, hasn't dropped consecutive contests since Oct. 28 against the New Jersey Devils and Oct. 29 vs. the New York Islanders.

The Avalanche's most recent defeat to Buffalo came on Dec. 5, 2017, 4-2 in Denver. Since then, Colorado has outscored the Sabres 32-12 during a seven-game winning streak, including a 22-9 while winning four in a row at Buffalo.

The Sabres, however, are 3-1-1 since losing eight in a row. After blowing a two-goal, third-period lead on Monday during a 6-5 overtime home loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Buffalo couldn't hold a 4-1 lead in the final period on Wednesday at Detroit but pulled out a 5-4 shootout victory.

"I think every single team in the league is going to lose leads in the third period," Buffalo coach Don Granato said. "We're going to, obviously, learn from it. ... I like the response."

Though the Sabres have allowed 10 goals in the past two games, they have 24 spanning a five-game stretch. Buffalo's Dylan Cozens had two on Wednesday, and he has four of his eight goals this season in the past four games. He had a goal during the Sabres' 4-1 loss at Colorado last season.

Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen, who has a team-leading 29 points, has four goals and eight assists over nine career games vs. Buffalo. Meanwhile, teammate Nathan MacKinnon, who owns 28 points on the season, has six goals and six assists during a seven-game point streak against the Sabres.

After allowing a total of three goals in his previous three starts, Colorado's Alexandar Georgiev yielded all five of the Jets' goals on Tuesday. Meanwhile, backup Pavel Francouz has won just two of his six starts this season but has a 2.70 GAA.

Buffalo's Craig Anderson (2.87 GAA) stopped 41 of 45 shots on Wednesday. However, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who has allowed 12 goals in three starts since being called up from AHL Rochester on Nov. 17, could be in net on Thursday as the Sabres complete a back-to-back set.

Sabres center Tage Thompson has 19 of his team-high 29 points in 13 home games this season. He recorded his first NHL hat trick during Buffalo's 5-3 home loss to the Avalanche last season.

--Field Level Media

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