Main storyline: The Buffalo Sabres (20-43-7) are back home following its first win since the Trade Deadline on Tuesday against the Bruins. On Friday, the Sabres host the New Jersey Devils (30-29-11) who are still trying to keep its playoff hopes alive heading into the final stretch of games.
Season series: Friday’s game is the final meeting between the Sabres and Devils this season. The Sabres are 0-1-1 against New Jersey this season, including its last game on February 17 when the Devils won 2-1 in a shootout. The Devils got out to a quick 1-0 lead in the first, and held the lead until early in the third period when Tyler Ennis tied the game. Both teams would eventually take this game into a shootout where the Devils got goals from Scott Gomez and Jacob Josefson to beat the Sabres. The last time the Sabres have beaten the Devils was back on April 1, 2014 in a 3-2 shootout win.
Where they stand: Buffalo still sits in 30th place in the NHL, but now only three points behind the 29th place Arizona Coyotes, who fell to the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 on Thursday in Glendale. The Sabres have a game in-hand on the Coyotes, and have yet to meet them this season. For the Devils, management still firmly believes this team is in playoff contention even with 12 games left and 12 points out of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Recent performance: For the Sabres, the team got its first victory since the February 26 on Tuesday in Boston. Loui Eriksson got the Bruins on the board early, but from there Anders Lindback shut the Bruins down. Rasmus Ristolainen tied the hockey game early in the third period on the powerplay for Buffalo. Anders Lindback would make 44 saves on the game to help force a shootout in Boston. In the shootout, Tyler Ennis scored the only goal in the first round and Lindback stopped all three Boston shooters to help lift Buffalo to victory. For the Devils, its last win came on Tuesday night in a 2-0 shutout win over the Penguins. New Jersey got a second period goal from Jacob Josefson, which was all the Devils needed. Corey Schneider made 35 saves to help the Devils past Pittsburgh on home-ice.
Buffalo notes: Anders Lindback finally got his first win as a member of the Buffalo Sabres. Lindback, since coming to Buffalo on February 11, has improved his game and his stats under goaltenders coach Arturs Irbe. Lindback has gone 1-3-2 in the seven games he has appeared in since March 3. Lindback has a 2.29 goal-against average and a 0.932 save-percentage in that seven game span. Lindback is not expected to stop any time soon, as he will be reinserted into the net on Friday against the Devils. In other lineup news, Mikhail Grigorenko has been recalled from Rochester while Tim Schaller and Chad Ruhwedel have been assigned to the Amerks. Zach Bogosian will not return to the lineup on Friday, but Andrej Meszaros could return for the blue and gold.
New Jersey notes: Keith Kinkaid will start for the Devils, the first time this happens since March 10 vs. Philadelphia. The Devils have won two straight games, and are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games. With 12 games remaining, the Devils find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture, looking up at Boston. With a 12 point deficit, tonight’s matchup is very important for New Jersey.
Conclusion: Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils faceoff tonight, shortly after 7 PM. Game can be seen on MSG.