The Buffalo Sabres will be out to rebound from a three-game skid when they begin a three-game road trip through California with a visit to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.
The Sabres are coming off a 7-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday, a contest in which Buffalo jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period before collapsing in the second, allowing four goals in a span of 5:22, including three in 1:47.
It was the Sabres’ first game since Feb. 1 following the All-Star break. They’re 0-2-1 in their past three games after a five-game winning streak.
“For sure disappointing, but let’s not hit the panic button right now,” Buffalo captain Kyle Okposo said Saturday after the game. “I don’t think anybody in here is going to tell you they played a good game. Once we kind of settle in here, get back into a groove, I think we re-evaluate.”
Sabres coach Don Granato put his squad through a fast-paced practice Sunday in Los Angeles, during which he stopped a drill and made them skate sprints after he was unhappy with the way the session started, per The Buffalo News.
He also tweaked the forward lines, with Dylan Cozens moving up to center Jeff Skinner and Alex Tuch while Tage Thompson was flanked by Casey Mittelstadt and Okposo.
“The issue that we had (Saturday), it’s not going to be solved with strategy. It’s going to be solved with work ethic,” Granato said. “That was the message before practice, that we were going to have probably our hardest practice of the year. It was right up there with it.”
The Sabres have been very much at home on the road, going 15-7-2 away from Buffalo. They’ve been especially comfortable when traveling through the Western Conference, with a 10-1-2 record as the visitor against those opponents.
The Kings will try to build off a 6-0 shellacking of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, their fourth win in the past six games (4-1-1).
Los Angeles was bumped down from second place in the Pacific Division to the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference on Sunday thanks to a Seattle Kraken victory. The Kraken, Edmonton Oilers and Kings all have 65 points.
Pheonix Copley has been a big part of the Kings’ push, going 16-3-1 since making his Kings debut on Dec. 6. The 31-year-old’s efforts between the pipes earned him a one-year, $1.5 million contract extension on Friday.
“My mindset was just to try and earn an opportunity and see where it took me,” Copley said. “I’ve always had the confidence that I can win games at this level and it’s hard to get an opportunity. … Once that came, just see what would happen and do my best to make the most of it.”
At the other end of the ice, Adrian Kempe has been on a roll of late, with 15 points (11 goals, four assists) in his past 11 games. He has six goals in his past two games after notching four against the Penguins on Saturday, and he leads the Kings with 26 on the season.
–Field Level Media