Panthers in town as Sabres open the New Year

Main storyline: The Buffalo Sabres (14-21-3) look to begin the 2015 calendar year with a win as they host the Florida Panthers (16-10-9).

Season series: Tonight’s meeting will mark the fourth of five meetings between the two clubs. Every game has been close, each being decided by one goal.

Where they stand: The Sabres sit dead last in the Atlantic Division with their closest competitor, the Senators, being six points ahead. League-wide, Buffalo rests at 28th place, 7 points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers. The Sabres can rise to 27th in the standings with a win tonight.

Recent performance: The Sabres dropped an ugly one to the East-leading Tampa Bay Lightning on New Year’s Eve, 5 to 1. Jhonas Enroth had a less than spectacular game, and it cost the Sabres dearly.  Buffalo went into the third period only down a goal and had looked capable of retaking the game. That amounted to nothing more than a thought as Tampa dominated Buffalo, firing home three goals late in the game. Buffalo mustered only one shot in the third period.

Buffalo notes: After going on a short run the Sabres have returned to earth, dropping six of their last seven games. Tyler Myers may be slated to return to the lineup after missing the last five games with a lower body injury. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Michal Neuvirth getting the start in-place of Jhonas Enroth who was torn apart only two nights ago.

Opponent notes: This game will mark the beginning of a 6 game road trip for the Panthers. The Panthers will likely turn back to Roberto Luongo in net after playing Al Montoya in their previous loss to the Sabres. Luongo is undefeated against the Sabres this season in two games, and has a shutout.

Conclusion: Puck drop will be at 7:00 pm and can be seen on MSG.

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