Anaheim Ducks vs. Buffalo Sabres Pick & Prediction JANUARY 23rd 2024

The Buffalo Sabres could have forward Jeff Skinner back in the lineup when they begin a three-game road trip with a visit to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.

Skinner has missed five games with an upper-body injury sustained Jan. 9 against the Seattle Kraken.

He practiced Monday in his usual spot at left wing next to Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch while also taking full repetitions on the top power-play unit. It was his second practice with the team since being injured. When Skinner rejoined the group Friday, he skated on a different line and rotated in during the power-play drills.

The 31-year-old veteran leads the Sabres with 17 goals and is third on the team with 33 points, behind forward Casey Mittelstadt (39 points) and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (37 points).

“Skinner went full-go in practice,” Buffalo coach Don Granato said Monday. “It’s definitely good. He went through practice very well and would expect him very, very soon if not (Tuesday).”

After a sluggish first 2 1/2 months of the season in which they managed consecutive wins only once, the Sabres have shown some improvement since the calendar flipped to 2024.

Buffalo is 5-3-0 in the new year and has twice won two in a row. But the struggles through the first half have hurt the Sabres in the standings. They are seventh in the Atlantic Division and nine points behind the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, who hold the two Eastern Conference wild-card spots.

Buffalo lost 3-1 to the Lightning on Saturday, closing out a 3-3-0 homestand.

“Obviously we want to be better, 3-3 (on the homestand) is not good enough,” Thompson said. “But at the same time, we’ve got a road trip coming up here and we can make a big statement. We’ve just got to focus one game at a time here and go from there.”

The Ducks, meanwhile, enter the contest looking to snap a three-game losing streak and escape a 2-9-1 skid. Anaheim is coming off a 5-2 home loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday, a game in which the Ducks held a 2-0 lead after the first period.

Anaheim was penalized four times for eight minutes against the Rangers, matching the Ducks’ lowest penalty-minutes total in eight games. Ducks opponents scored nine power-play goals in that span.

“That’s kinda been all year for us,” Anaheim forward Adam Henrique said. “A lot of penalties, so we’ve got to find a way. You’ve got to stay out of the box. Power plays are so good now, that can certainly change the momentum.”

Henrique scored both goals in the loss to the Rangers, giving him 14 on the season and moving him into second on the team behind Frank Vatrano (21). Henrique has 28 points through 45 games this season, putting him on pace for 51 points, which would tie his career best. He reached that mark as a rookie with the New Jersey Devils in 2011-12.

Henrique subsequently produced 50-point seasons in 2015-16 with the Devils and in 2017-18, when he was traded from the Devils to the Ducks midseason.

–Field Level Media

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