Game Preview: 12/31/19 vs. Tampa Bay

GAME-DAY RESOURCES

Game Notes NHL Stats Press Clips

LAST GAME
Sunday, December 29
Buffalo 2 at Boston 3
Goals: Ristolainen, Lazar
Goalie: Ullmark (19 saves/22 shots)
PP: 0/3; PK: 4/6; Shots: Buffalo 26 – Boston 22

CURRENT INJURIES – (Man Games Lost: 183)
Player (injury, first game missed) – total games missed
Matt Hunwick (neck, Oct. 3; injured reserve) – 40 games
Vladimir Sobotka (knee, Nov. 9; injured reserve) – 24 games
Tage Thompson (upper body, Nov. 19; injured reserve) – 20 games
Marco Scandella (illness, Dec. 27) – 2 games
Jeff Skinner (upper body, Dec. 29; injured reserve) – 1 game

TRANSACTIONS IN PAST 7 DAYS
12/27: Recalled F Curtis Lazar from Rochester (AHL)
12/30: Signed F Dalton Smith to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700,000; Placed F Jeff Skinner on IR

UPCOMING GAMES
Thursday, Jan. 2: Edmonton at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 4: Florida at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 9: Buffalo at St. Louis, 8 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 11: Vancouver at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 12: Buffalo at Detroit, 5 p.m.

TONIGHT’S GAME
LIGHTNING at SABRES

  • This is the fourth and final meeting between the Sabres and Lightning this season.
  • Last meeting: Tampa Bay defeated Buffalo 5-2 in Tampa on Nov. 25
  • The Sabres are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Lightning; 2-7-1 at home.
  • This is the 106th game all-time between Buffalo and Tampa Bay; Buffalo has a 55-41-9 series record.
  • The Sabres are 26-20-5 at home against the Lightning all-time.

THIS DATE IN SABRES HISTORY

  • The Sabres are 13-14-5 all-time on December 31.
  • December 31, 1987: The Sabres trade Paul Cyr and a 10th-round draft pick in 1988 (Eric Fenton) to the New York Rangers for Mike Donnelly and a fifth-round pick in 1988 (Alexander Mogilny).
  • December 31, 1993: Alexander Mogilny appears in his 300th NHL game and Dominik Hasek stops 39 of 40 shots as the Sabres defeat the Rangers 4-1 at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium.
  • December 31, 1997: Michael Peca scores two shorthanded goals in a 3-0 win over Ottawa. Peca still shares the franchise record for most shorthanded goals scored in one game by a single player with Don Luce, Bob Sweeney, Alexei Zhitnik and Evander Kane.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • The Sabres are 12-11-3 all-time in New Year’s Eve home games, including a 5-1 loss against the Lightning on Dec. 31, 2014.
  • Sam Reinhart has recorded 11 points (9+2) in his last 10 games against the Lightning, including at least one goal in five of the last six meetings.
  • Jack Eichel has totaled six points (1+5) in his last six meetings with the Lightning, including three points (1+2) in three games so far this season.
  • Victor Olofsson has tallied a point in each of his first three career matchups with Tampa Bay this season (1+2).
  • Olofsson has recorded 20 points (9+11) in his last 20 games. He has failed to record a point in just five of those 20 games and leads all NHL rookies in goals (16) and points (34) this season.
  • If he dresses, tonight’s game will be the first of Dalton Smith’s NHL career.

HOME COOKING

  • The Sabres are 11-4-3 (.694) through their first 18 home games of the season, putting the team on pace for its 12th-best home record in a season and its best since 2006-07.
  • Linus Ullmark has won five of his last six games at KeyBank Center, posting a .928 save percentage and a 2.35 goals-against average in those games.
  • With 31 points (17+14) in 18 home games this season, Jack Eichel’s 1.72 points per game at home ranked second in the league entering play Monday. His plus-21 rating at home led the league, with Colorado’s Ryan Graves ranking second at plus-15.
  • Victor Olofsson is also playing at a point-per-game pace at home this season, totaling 18 points (9+9) in 18 home games.
  • Sam Reinhart is just one point off of a point-per-game pace at home in 2019-20, having recorded 17 points (7+10) in 18 home games, including two-point outings in three of the team’s last four games at KeyBank Center.
  • Johan Larsson has recorded seven points (2+5) and a plus-7 rating in his last six home games.

JACK ATTACK

  • Jack Eichel has been selected to represent the Sabres at NHL All-Star Weekend on Jan. 24 and 25 in St. Louis. With his third consecutive All-Star nod, Eichel becomes the seventh player in franchise history to represent the team in at least three NHL All-Star Games, joining Rick Martin (7), Gilbert Perreault (6), Dominik Hasek (5), Mike Ramsey (4), Phil Housley (3) and Alexander Mogilny (3).
  • Entering play Monday, Eichel’s 24 goals tied for third-most among all NHL players and his 52 points were the seventh-most in the league.
  • With his 50th point of the season on Dec. 17 at Toronto, Eichel became the first Sabre to reach 50 points in 35 or fewer games since 1992-93 (Pat LaFontaine and Alexander Mogilny). He joins Rick Martin as the only other player in franchise history to record at least 20 goals and 50 points in each of his first five NHL seasons.
  • Eichel hasn’t been held without a point in three consecutive appearances since early November. In his 23 games played since then, he has totaled 35 points (17+18), including a stretch of 18 straight games (Nov. 16 to Dec. 21) that tied Gilbert Perreault (Oct. 24 to Dec. 4, 1971) for the most consecutive games played with a point in franchise history.
  • The streak was the NHL’s fifth-longest personal point streak in the last decade, trailing only Taylor Hall (26 in 2017-18), Patrick Kane (26 in 2015-16), Sidney Crosby (25 in 2010-11) and Patrick Kane (20 in 2018-19).

SETTING THE PACE

  • With 24 goals in 39 games so far this season, Jack Eichel is on pace to shatter his previous best goal total (28), set in the 2018-19 season.
  • Eichel’s output through 40 team games currently has him on pace to finish the season with 50 goals and 108 points, which would be the highest goal and point totals by a Sabre since Pat LaFontaine (53+95) and Alexander Mogilny (76+51) in 1992-93.
  • LaFontaine (83 in 1992-93) and Mogilny (78 in 1992-93) are the only Sabres ever to have recorded more even-strength points in a season than the 75 Eichel is currently on pace for.
  • Victor Olofsson’s goal and point totals currently have him on pace for the best offensive season by a Sabres rookie in decades. If he maintains his current pace, he would finish the season with the most goals by a Sabres rookie (33) since Ray Sheppard’s 38 in 1987-88 and the third-most points ever recorded by a Sabres rookie (70), trailing only Rick Martin (74 in 1971-72) and Gilbert Perreault (72 on 1970-71).
  • Rasmus Dahlin, who has missed eight games due to injury this season, is currently on pace to record 49 points this season, which would be the highest total by a Sabres defenseman since Garry Galley’s 54 in 1995-96.
  • Sam Reinhart’s 12 goals in 40 games put him on pace to tie his career-high goal total (25) from 2017-18.

POINTS IN BUNCHES

  • Jack Eichel has recorded 15 multi-point games this season, tying for ninth-most in the NHL entering play Monday.
  • Prior to Monday’s games, his six multi-goal games ranked second in the league and his eight multi-assist games tied for fifth-most.
  • Eichel has already recorded at least three points seven times this season, topping his previous career-high total (6) set in the 2016-17 season. Only Connor McDavid (9) and Leon Draisaitl (8) had more games with at least three points this season entering play Monday.
  • Eichel’s three games with at least four points this season tied for the league lead before Monday’s games. Since he entered the league in 2015-16, only seven players had totaled at least four points more times than Eichel’s eight: Nikita Kucherov (15), Patrick Kane (11), Connor McDavid (10), Johnny Gaudreau (9), Brad Marchand (9), Alex Ovechkin (9) and Steven Stamkos (9).

SABRES AMONG LEAGUE-LEADERS (Sabres’ league rankings before 12/30 games)

  • Eichel: 18 EVG (2nd), 24 G (T-3rd), 36 EVP (T-3rd), 52 PTS (7th), 4 GWG (T-9th)
  • Hutton: 2 SO (T-5th)
  • Olofsson: 9 PPG (T-3rd)
  • Ristolainen: 119 hits (T-9th)

SABRES REAL-TIME STATS LEADERS
Hits: Ristolainen (119), Girgensons (61), McCabe (59)
Blocked Shots: McCabe (59), Ristolainen (47), Jokiharju (36)
Shots: Eichel (139), Skinner (128), Olofsson (97)

SABRES’ RECORD IN 10 GAME SEGMENTS [W-L-OTL (PTS), GF/GA, PP, PK]
1-10: 8-1-1 (17), 38/24, 12/39, 23/30
11-20: 2-6-2 (6), 21/35, 2/26, 21/29
21-30: 3-4-3 (8), 34/34, 4/33, 23/32
31-40: 4-5-1 (9), 24/32, 4/23, 23/30

OVERTIME RESULTS (3-6; 123-134 all-time)
Oct. 7 at CBJ: L, 4-3 (GWG-Texier, 2:08)
Oct. 9 vs. MTL: W, 5-4 (GWG-Johansson, 1:30)
Oct. 22 vs. SJS: W, 4-3 (GWG-Eichel, 3:13)
Nov. 14 vs. CAR: L, 5-4 (GWG-Hamilton, 2:28)
Nov. 27 vs. CGY: L, 3-2 (GWG-Lindholm, 1:17)
Nov. 30 at TOR: L, 2-1 (GWG-Tavares, 1:45)
Dec. 7 at VAN: L, 6-5 (GWG-Miller, 3:21)
Dec. 8 at EDM: W, 3-2 (GWG-Miller, 1:13)
Dec. 14 at NYI: L, 3-2 (GWG-Beauvillier, 3:04)

SHOOTOUT RESULTS (1-1; 76-70 all-time)
Oct. 11 vs. FLA: W, 3-2 (GDG-Eichel)
Oct. 28 vs. ARI: L, 3-2 (GDG-Schmaltz)

MILESTONES APPROACHING (Player … Needs … Milestone)
Games Played
Conor Sheary … 5 games … 300 career games played
Goals
Sam Reinhart … 1 goal … 100 career goals
Kyle Okposo … 9 goals … 200 career goals
Assists
Marco Scandella … 9 assists … 100 career assists
Points
Kyle Okposo … 5 points … 500 career points
Zach Bogosian … 8 points … 200 career points

RECENT MILESTONES
Jeff Skinner … 700th NHL game … 12/27 vs. BOS

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