Puck Previews: Sabres look to make history; Sharks look to avoid collapse

Erik Komatsu baseball's St Louis Cardinals accommodates the autograph request of, presumably, a lost Blues fan.

Preview: Montreal Canadiens at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m. ET

It's pretty impressive to consider where the Sabres were the last time they played the Canadiens. That was in February, and the loss put them in last place in the conference. Since then, however, they're mounted a remarkable turnaround that has them only 4 points back of 8th place, and on the verge of making history. According to the Buffalo News, "No team has ever come from last place in a conference in February to make the postseason under the current format, and the only team to overcome a 10-point deficit from any position in February was the 1994 New York Islanders." But the Canadiens are playing well right now too: they won two straight on a recent Western swing and they finally have Andrei Markov back. Should be a fun one.

Preview: Anaheim Ducks at Colorado Avalanche, 9 p.m. ET

The Avalanche have 7 wins in their last 10 games, making them one of the hottest teams in the West. They're tied with three teams for 8th. The Ducks, meanwhile, have fallen off after looking like they might be making a Cinderella run. They're 4-6-0 in the last 10, 8 points back of Colorado. Worse, they could be without Corey Perry tonight after he injured his shoulder on a hit from Stephane Robidas. Do they even have a chance? "We're in a do-or-die situation," said Ryan Getzlaf, being optimistic.

Preview: San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers, 9:30 p.m. ET

How's this for horrifying? The Sharks have yet to win a game in March. They're 2-6-2 in their last 10 games, they've lost 5 in a row, and they've fallen to 4th -- seriously, 4th -- in the Pacific Division. On the bright side, the Oilers are a good team to play if you're hoping to win a game, but San Jose can't think that way, especially since one of the losses on their current five-game losing streak came at Edmonton's hands. What can be done? Todd McLellan has mixed things up, placing Daniel Winnick on a line with Patrick Marleau and Ryane Clowe, so he's out of ideas.

Preview: Nashville Predators at Phoenix Coyotes, 10 p.m. ET

The league's best brother duo in the month of March? The Kostitsyns, who have a combined 10 points in their 4 games. Speaking of four game swings, Monday's tilt in Phoenix is the first of a 4-game road trip and the beginning of a stretch of 8 of 10 on the road. A first-round matchup with Central Division rival Detroit is looking more and more likely, and if the Predators want to ensure only 3 of those games take place at Joe Louis Arena, they're going to have to make up the 4-point gap and leapfrog the Wings for the 4th seed. As for the Coyotes, they're just hoping to make the playoffs. They've fallen off after a fabulous February and presently find themselves in a 3-way tie for 8th.

Evening Reading

• Justin Bourne defends the morning skate. [Backhand Shelf]

• What's behind the great Sedin scoring famine of 2012? I'm saying threats from Trevor Linden. [PITB]

• Apparently, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' new stick is a game-changer, although it still looks like a hockey stick, so the game remains the same. [Edmonton Journal]

• A 47-year-old man has been charged with assaulting a 19-year-old referee after disagreeing with a call in a Midget Triple A hockey game. Good grief. [CBC]

• Neat story about the kids from the Canada-Israel Hockey School in Metulla, Israel, visiting Canada this weekend. [Vancouver Sun]

• Weird story of over 20 youths that suddenly and simultaneously got sick and started vomiting at the benches during youth hockey state championship games at a Taylor sports complex in Taylor, Michigan. Turns out it was an outbreak of norovirus. What the heck. [Detroit News]

Puck Buddy comment of the day: Mick O reminds us of the truest shame regarding the Evgeni Malkin-Johnny Boychuk hit:

That play never woulda happened if the red line was back in....

When will they learn.

Bold prediction: Cody Hodgson gets his first goal in a Sabres uniform as Buffalo continues to roll.

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