Sabres look to turn things around in New Jersey

Main storyline: The Buffalo Sabres (16-37-3) are on the road following a five-game home stand in which the Sabres only grabbed one win. The first game of the road trip Tuesday is in New Jersey as the Sabres battle the slumping Devils (21-26-9) at the Prudential Center.

Season series: Tuesday night is the second of three matchups between the two teams. The first game came back on January 6th when the Devils handed the Sabres its fifth straight loss as part of the team’s 14-game losing streak. Devils forward Patrik Elias recorded his 1,000th point in front of the home crowd in a 4-1 rocking of the Sabres. The last matchup between the Sabres and Devils will come on March 20 at the First Niagara Center.

Where they stand: It’s no surprise, the Sabres continue to sit in last place in the NHL with 35 total points on the year. The Sabres sit seven points behind the Edmonton Oilers for 29th place with two games in hand. Edmonton lost 5-4 in a shootout to the Winnipeg Jets on Monday . For the Devils, they has lost four straight games as the team sits second last in the Metropolitan Division with 51 points, and sit 12 points behind Boston for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Devils currently sit 25th in the NHL standings.

Recent performance: It was Zach Bogosian’s debut in blue and gold for the Sabres, but it did not go in Buffalo’s favor against the Flyers on Sunday. Matt Read got the Flyers ahead early in the first, but Nikita Zadorov got Buffalo back in the game with a powerplay goal in the second period. However, with 7:15 left in the third period, Michael Raffl put the Flyers ahead 2-1, and the Sabres were beat again for the third straight game. The Devils lost 4-1 to the Nashville Predators on Saturday night in Nashville. New Jersey tied the game in the second period, but gave up the go-ahead goal with 3:29 left in the third period. 

Buffalo notes: Buffalo’s struggles continue, but got a huge contribution from newest defenseman Zach Bogosian on Sunday night’s game. Bogosian had eleven hits and two blocked shots in 24:49 of total ice-time in the loss to the Flyers. Even with the addition of Bogosian to the Sabres defense, the Sabres are still dead last in the NHL in most statistics in the league. The most astounding stat could be Buffalo giving up an average 34.7 shots per game, which is 1.3 shots more than Colorado. Buffalo also averages 3.43 goals against per game, which is also a league high. The Sabres got some bad news on the injury front as Patrick Kaleta is going to be out of the Sabres lineup four to six weeks following surgery on a lower-body injury. Josh Gorges is not planning on making the road-trip with the Sabres, and some fear he could be out the rest of the season with a lower body injury.

Opponent notes: The Devils have had a rough four-game stretch, in which they have been outscored 14-5. The Devils have also been outshot 141-85 in that stretch. The Devils are second to last in the league in shots per game with an average of 23.9 shots per game. Only Buffalo is worse than the Devils with 22.8 shots per game. The Devils could possibly be with the Sabres in the bottom of the standings if it were not for the outstanding play of Cory Schneider. Schneider has been good for the Devils with a .924 save percentage and a 2.30 goals against average. Schneider has started 48 games for the Devils, which is the most starts for a goaltender in the NHL this season. New Jersey will look to Schneider once again in net for the Devils. The Devils have also been injured lately, as the team has been without Ryan Clowe (concussion), Bryce Salvador (back), Damon Severson (ankle) and Stephen Gionta (hand). Gionta could be back Tuesday night to face the Sabres after being out since late December.

Conclusion: Which team will break its losing skid? The Sabres will go with Michal Neuvirth in net to look and snap its three game losing streak. Opening face-off is scheduled for 7pm. The game can be seen on NBCSN, and can be heard on WGR 550 AM.

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