SABRES (14-30-8) at COYOTES (25-18-10)
Season series: This is the second and final game between these cross-conference clubs. The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1 in overtime on Dec. 23 in Buffalo, on a blooper-reel goal credited to Sabres defenseman Mark Pysyk. On that bizarre play, Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal knocked a loose puck into the back of his goalie Mike Smith's hockey pants and then Smith slid backward toward his goal unaware it was trapped in his equipment, surrendering the game-winner when the puck came loose and ended up in the net.
Big story: This will be the Coyotes' first home game since the team announced Wednesday they will officially be renamed the Arizona Coyotes at the start of the 2014-15 season. The Sabres have been successful in Glendale recently, riding a three-game winning streak with their last loss at what is now known as Jobing.com Arena coming on Jan. 21, 2008.
Coyotes: The Coyotes kicked off their five-game homestand with a 3-0 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, gaining two much-needed points against their fellow Western Conference competitor. They will enter this game three points behind eighth-place Vancouver.
Forward Lauri Korpikoski will enter the game looking to set a career-high point streak; he has tied his career high by notching at least one point in five straight games. His previous five-game point streak was from Jan. 10-17, 2011.
The Coyotes will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak (0-2-1) to Buffalo in games played at Jobing.com Arena. Phoenix last beat Buffalo on home ice in 2007-08.
Head Coach Dave Tippett said he's more concerned about his team improving on the way it played vs. Buffalo in that 2-1 overtime loss last month.
"For whatever reason, we weren't very good," Tippett said. "... We didn't play anywhere near to our capabilities ... If you look at Buffalo now, they're playing like a loose team... The key for us tonight is to play our game and recognize that we've got an opponent that's loose and is going to play really hard. We have to find a way to win."
Sabres: Buffalo has lost seven of its past eight games (1-4-3) with just under a 1.75 goal differential, including a 5-4 overtime defeat at the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. While interim coach Ted Nolan's team has been keeping the games close, they have not yet found the right formula to get them over the hump and, with 36 points, remain last in the NHL.
Nolan was pleased with the Sabres' performance in the third period Tuesday as center Cody Hodgson tied the game with a backhander, but admitted he wants to see a more complete effort.
"To control the third period the way we did, you're happy at one point," Nolan said. "But on the other side, there's little parts of our game that we need to continue to work on and make corrections on. That was a big lesson learned in a bad situation."
Who's hot: Coyotes center Antoine Vermette is in the midst of a five-game point streak with six goals and two assists over that span... Hodgson has four goals and an assist in his past four games for the Sabres. …
Injury report: Sabres forwards Cody McCormick (upper body), Kevin Porter (lower body) and Matt D'Agostini (upper body) are on injured reserve, although D'Agostini skated at practice Tuesday in a non-contact jersey. Forward Drew Stafford (upper body) is questionable after sustaining the injury at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 25.
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