Sabres-Ducks Preview

The Anaheim Ducks of today hardly resemble the offensively challenged group that was blanked by the Buffalo Sabres a little more than two months ago.

One of the league's hottest clubs, the Ducks can avenge that defeat by matching a season high with their sixth consecutive victory Wednesday night against the visiting Sabres.

Following a 3-0 loss at Buffalo on Dec. 17, Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau called out his team, particularly his top players for their effort in that contest and pretty much overall up to that point. The defeat opened a 1-2-1 trip for the Ducks, who were a Western Conference-worst 12-15-6 and averaging a league-low 1.9 goals when it ended.

Following a four-day break, Anaheim (31-19-8) beat Philadelphia 4-2 to begin its current 19-4-2 run. The Ducks have averaged 4.0 goals while winning 14 of the last 17 and have scored at least five in four straight games for the first time in club history. They're amid a 12-1-1 stretch while continuing to put heat on Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles.

''It's been fun,'' forward Ryan Kesler said. ''Every night, we go into the game thinking - not thinking, but knowing - we're going to win, and going out there with that attitude.''

Kesler had two goals with an assist as Anaheim returned from a 5-1-1 trip to defeat Calgary 5-2 on Sunday.

"We're playing good hockey and we're on a roll right now," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. ''We don't want to see it slide. We want to play the right way."

Bieksa had one of two power-play goals for the Ducks, who are 8 for 18 in the last five.

''They're one of the best teams in the league right now, there's no doubt about it,'' Flames defenseman Mark Giordano said. "Confidence is going a long way for them now."

Buffalo (24-29-7) resides near the bottom of the East but has blanked the Ducks seven times in 31 meetings, including Chad Johnson's 44-save effort in December, for its highest shutout-to-games ratio against any opponent. However, sweeping this season series could be tough without leading scorer Ryan O'Reilly.

The Sabres' 3-0-1 stretch ended with Sunday's 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh in their first game minus O'Reilly, who will miss three to four weeks with a lower body injury. Besides his team-high 49 points, O'Reilly leads the league in faceoffs won (848) and average ice time (21:51) among forwards.

"It's tough to replace him because you can't replace him," teammate Sam Reinhart told the Sabres' official website. "It's not going to be one or two guys; it's got to be everyone."

That now includes O'Reilly's brother, Cal, who was called up from Rochester of the AHL. Cal O'Reilly was third on that team with 28 points.

Buffalo, though, will be without defenseman Mike Weber after he was traded to Washington on Tuesday for a third-round pick in the 2017 draft. Weber had a goal and four assists and averaged almost 16 minutes a game for the Sabres.

Evander Kane scored against the Ducks in December and has two goals with two assists in his last three at Anaheim.

Ryan Getzlaf has six points in the Sabres' last two visits. He enters this matchup on an eight-game point streak during which he has four goals and nine assists.

Teammate Frederik Andersen has a 1.75 goals-against average during his four-game home winning streak. He is 3-0-0 with a 1.34 GAA against the Sabres but hasn't faced them since October 2014.

Johnson, who posted his only shutout of the season against Anaheim, is rumored to be on the trading block and has not played since Feb. 12. Robin Lehner has started the past four games, giving up a combined two goals in the first three before allowing four Sunday.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.