|7:30 PM PT8:30 PM MT9:30 PM CT10:30 PM ET2:30 GMT10:30 7:30 PM MST9:30 PM EST6:30 UAE (+1)22:30 ET23:30 BRT, October 19, 2019
SAP Center at San Jose, San Jose, California Attendance: 17,562
Sharks hope to extend win streak vs. improved Sabres
Buffalo Sabres at San Jose Sharks
- Since the 2016-17 season, San Jose has gone 4-0-2 against Buffalo, going 7-for-22 (31.8 percent) on the power play. On home ice in this span, the Sharks have gone 3-0-0 with a +33 SOG differential (106-73), outscoring the Sabres 5-0 on the power play.
- Since losing the first four games of the season and scoring five goals (1.25 per game), San Jose has since won three straight and scored 13 goals (4.33 per game). San Jose has scored multiple power-play goals in 14 games since last season began, most by a Western Conference team.
- Evander Kane had his second career hat trick and his fourth career four-point game on Wednesday. Kane was the first player in Sharks franchise history with a hat trick in the first period of a game.
- Buffalo has won six of its first eight games in a season for the first time since 2009-10. The Sabres' 11 power-play goals are the most in the NHL, and these 11 power-play goals are the most by the Sabres through eight games since 2006-07 (12).
- Casey Middlestadt had two goals and an assist on Thursday, and at 20 year-329 days, he became the second-youngest player with a three-point game in the NHL this season -- the only younger player with such a game was teammate Rasmus Dahlin.
- Carter Hutton made 47 saves last time out -- only two goalies have had more saves in any game this season. Hutton has won all five of his starts and has a .953 save percentage, the first goalie to meet these marks through five starts in a season since 2016-17 (both Tuukka Rask and Carey Price).
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When the Buffalo Sabres awoke Friday morning, they were perched atop the NHL standings with a sparkling 6-1-1 record.
For a downtrodden organization that has missed the playoffs the last eight seasons, this is a big improvement -- one they hope to improve upon further when they visit the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.
"I think right now we're just enjoying playing the game, the grind of it," goalie Carter Hutton said. "We've got to play in these games. If we want to be a playoff team, if we want to be a winning team, we have to learn how to play in tough situations, tough buildings."
The Sabres arrive in Northern California having won four of their last five games, the latest a 3-0 victory in Los Angeles over the Kings on Thursday in which Hutton sent a franchise record with 47 saves in a shutout win. Hutton has recorded a shutout in his last two games.
In a young season that's seeing many of Buffalo's young and promising players reaching their potential -- for example, Casey Mittelstadt scored twice against the Kings -- it's a nice story for the veteran goalie to receive his accolades.
"I think the main thing is he's just so calm all the time," Mittelstadt said of Hutton. "No matter what's going on, the game can be chaos, and you look back and he's always calm and relaxed."
"You just keep competing," Hutton said of his latest performance, but he could also be talking about this career path. "You can't really let your guard down. You never think you're unbeatable by any means."
The Sharks head into the clash having apparently turned the corner from their early season struggles. San Jose opened the campaign with four consecutive losses, but now is riding a three-game winning streak and coming off a 5-2 shellacking of the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday.
"Establishing our home ice this week, especially with a couple days off between games, is important," forward Evander Kane told NHL.com. "Getting leads early is something we didn't do when we lost four in a row, and we've done a good job of playing with the lead. Those are some positive steps."
Kane certainly has had a hand in the Sharks' improved fortunes. A first-period hat trick against the Hurricanes gives the sniper four goals and six points in four games this season. He missed the first three clashes due to a suspension.
"It was obviously nice to be a part of getting that lead," Kane said. "The guys did a great job of getting pucks to the net. Our power play executed. It was nice to get it at home."
It has also helped the San Jose cause that goaltender Martin Jones has found his form. Jones made 36 saves against the Hurricanes, 15 of them in the first period. He has allowed only three goals over his last two starts after surrendering 12 in his first three games of the season.
"He's been locked in the last couple nights and when he gets like this, he's one of the best," captain Logan Couture told the San Jose Mercury News. "He made those big saves and really kept us in that game. It could have gotten ugly with the chances that they were getting in the first. He played very well."
--Field Level Media
Updated October 18, 2019