The Buffalo Sabres will wrap up the pre-All Star break portion of their schedule in Newark, NJ tonight versus the New Jersey Devils. Buffalo is looking to snap it’s franchise worst 13 game road losing streak against the Devils who have lost two consecutive home games.
This will be the third meeting overall between the two teams, and the final game in New Jersey. The Devils have won both prior meetings this season, most recently a 5-3 win in Buffalo on November 16th, 2011.
The Sabres have been abysmal in the goal scoring department, scoring only 17 goals in 10 contests since the start of the new year. However that offense will receive a bit of a boost as puck moving defenseman Christian Ehrhoff will be returning to the lineup for the first time since the last game of 2011, a ten game absence. In 37 games this season Ehrhoff has 14 assists and 17 points, which leads all Sabres defensemen.
The Devils will have a fresh face of their own in the lineup, newly acquired winger Alexei Ponikarovsky made his NJ debut on Saturday scoring the lone goal in the Devils 4-1 loss to Philadelphia. New Jersey traded Joe Sova and a fourth round pick in the 2012 draft to Carolina for the veteran winger.
After this contest the Sabres will get a much needed respite from the daily NHL grind. Several injured players, including Robyn Regehr and Tyler Ennis, are close to returning, and many others are playing through injuries. The week off should allow Buffalo to return a healthier team following the All Star festivities.
Before the break though Buffalo must focus on getting out of New Jersey with two points. Leading goal scorer, Thomas Vanek (19g), will be trying to snap a season high 8 game goal drought tonight. He is also coming off a terrible outing in St. Louis where he was a -3 and took a late game penalty that resulted in a Blues power play tally which all but iced the game.
Struggling forwards Derek Roy (0 pts in last 4 games), Drew Stafford (1 pt in last 9 games), and Ville Leino (11 pts on the season) will also look to get on the score sheet and gain confidence heading into the break. Only winger Jason Pominville, and rookie Luke Adam will represent Buffalo at the 2012 All Star Game in Ottawa this upcoming weekend.
The puck drops at the Prudential Center in Newark at 7pm (EST).