⏰ 7 p.m. ? MSG ? WGR550
After two back-to-back matches and an off day, both the Sabres and Islanders are taking this matchup head on. New York looks to hold on to their first place Metropolitan spot, while Buffalo is working to scrape up as many points as possible for a Wild Card spot.
BUF Stats (2018) PIT 33-39-10 Record 44-26-12 21-15-5 Home 23-14-4 12-24-5 Away 21-12-8 5-3 Shootouts 2-3 226 Goals For 273 271 Goals Against 241 16th PP Rank 5th 12th PK Rank 19th
This is the second meeting between both teams this season. The Islanders beat the Sabres, 3-1, on New Year’s Eve in Buffalo. The Sabres’ penalty kill is 10-11 (90.9 percent) in the team’s last five games against the Islanders.
# Top Scorers GP Goals Assists Points 9 Jack Eichel 69 26 49 75 23 Sam Reinhart 74 19 41 60 53 Jeff Skinner 74 37 22 59 26 Rasmus Dahlin 74 8 32 40 55 Rasmus Ristolainen 74 5 34 39
This past weekend, the Sabres (27-21-7) beat Detroit but fell to Winnipeg. This is the eighth time the Sabres have attempted a multi-win streak but have had no luck. The Sabres are currently 2-2-1 in their seven-game homestand and enter tonight’s game four points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Captain Jack Eichel is looking to extend his point streak to six games for the third time this season, as he currently has at least a point in each of his last five games.
Casey Mittelstadt will be a game-time decision tonight and C.J. Smith will be ready to take his place in the event of his absence. The rest of the lineup will remain unchanged from Sunday.
New York notes:
# Top Scorers GP Goals Assists Points 21 Kyle Palmieri 71 27 23 50 13 Nico Hischier 63 17 27 44 19 Travis Zajac 74 17 24 41 9 Taylor Hall 33 11 26 37 28 Damon Severson 76 11 26 37
This past weekend, the Islanders (33-16-6) swept both of their opponents, Colorado and Minnesota, to extend their winning streak to three. They hold the second Eastern Conference playoff spot and are fifth in the league. Defenseman Ryan Pulock has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past five games.
“Last time we played them when we were breaking out, which I thought we did a really good job against their forecheck, but they were stripping a lot of pucks from behind,” Coach Housley said at Tuesday morning’s skate. “We have to be aware of that because they come back into their own zone and they have a big commitment to their own end.
“There’s a reason why they’re number one overall 5-on-5 goals against and just overall in general goals against. We’re going to have to grind it out, fight for everything that we get with space in the offensive zone. But I thought we played a really strong game against them.”
Starting Goaltenders W/L GAA SV % SHO Carter Hutton 15-17-3 2.84 .909 0 Career vs. TBL 2-2-0 3.38 .876 0 Louis Domingue 19-4-0 2.86 .908 0 Career vs. BUF 3-3-0 2.87 .898 0
Buffalo’s Linus Ullmark will start in net tonight. He is coming off a 28-save effort in the win over the Red Wings, which was his 50th NHL appearance. He has a .914 save percentage in that span — the best in franchise history among goalies who have played their first 50 games for Buffalo.
New York’s goaltending will be a challenge for Buffalo as they have only allowed 1.23 goals per game in their last 14 games. Thoma Greiss improved to 16-10 with a 2.28 goals against average. While ex-Sabre Robin Lehner has gone 17-12 with a 2.05 GAA so far this season. Lehner is expected to start in goal tonight.