Buffalo welcomes Columbus to the First Niagara Center for the second time this year. The Blue Jackets dominated Buffalo in a decisive 4-1 victory when they first visited in October, with Nick Foligno scoring the game winning goal.
Despite losing their last two home games, the Sabres have continued to play extremely well when on home ice. In their past 10 home games the Sabres have a 6-2-2 record.
The return of Cody Hodgson has certainly had a major impact on the Sabres. In three games since his return Hodgson has recorded 2 goals and 2 assists as well as the shoot-out winner versus Washington. With Hodgson returning and picking up where he left off, in terms of offensive production, the Sabres will not have to rely so heavily on Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis who are 1st and 3rd in scoring respectively. Hodgson will need to continue his offensive dominance if Buffalo wishes to continue winning games.
Although offensive production is stressed, particularly in times when it is hard to come by, defensive play is going to be a huge factor versus the Blue Jackets. Columbus put up four goals in the first outing versus Buffalo and have proved to be among the leagues best in goals per game since that point, being ranked 10th in the league with 2.79. In particular the Sabres will have to pay attention to Ryan Johansen, who has (team leading) 17 goals and 17 assists through 46 games played.
Marcus Foligno will be returning to the line-up after missing the previous game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. On the other side of the injury front are Henrik Tallinder, Matt D’Agostini, Cody McCormick, and Kevin Porter, who will all miss tonight’s game versus the Blue Jackets.
Puck drop is at 7:00 pm and can be seen on MSG.