Game Preview: 1/31/21 vs. New Jersey

GAME-DAY RESOURCES

Game Notes NHL Stats Press Clips

LAST GAME
Saturday, January 30
New Jersey 3 at Buffalo 4 (SO)
Goals: Staal, Rieder, Olofsson; GDG-Eichel
Goalie: Ullmark (31 saves/34 shots)
PP: 1/5; PK: 4/5; Shots: New Jersey 34 – Buffalo 31

CURRENT INJURIES – (Man Games Lost: 19)
Player (injury, first game missed) – total games missed
Zemgus Girgensons (hamstring, Jan. 14; injured reserve) – 9 games
Sam Reinhart (upper body, Jan. 30) – 1 game

TRANSACTIONS IN PAST 7 DAYS
1/25: Loaned G Jonas Johansson to the taxi squad; Reassigned F Rasmus Asplund and G Dustin Tokarski from the taxi squad to Rochester (AHL)
1/26: Recalled F Dylan Cozens from the taxi squad; Loaned F Casey Mittelstadt to the taxi squad
1/31: Recalled F Casey Mittelstadt from the taxi squad

UPCOMING GAMES
Tuesday, Feb. 2: Buffalo at NY Islanders, 6 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 4: Buffalo at NY Islanders, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 6: Buffalo at Boston, 7:30 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 8: Buffalo at Boston, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 11: Washington at Buffalo, 7 p.m.

TODAY’S GAME
DEVILS at SABRES

  • This is the second of eight meetings between the Sabres and Devils this season.
  • Last meeting: Buffalo defeated New Jersey 4-3 (SO) in Buffalo on Jan. 30
  • Next meeting: Saturday, Feb. 20 in New Jersey
  • The Sabres are 5-5-0 in their last 10 games vs. the Devils; 4-5-1 at home.
  • This is the 161st game all-time between Buffalo and New Jersey; Buffalo has a 79-55-26 series record.
  • The Sabres are 44-27-11 at home against the Devils all-time.

THIS DATE IN SABRES HISTORY

  • The Sabres are 14-7-1 all-time on January 31.
  • January 31, 1974: Rick Martin scores the first penalty shot goal in team history against Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Bernie Parent in a 4-3 road loss.
  • January 31, 1989: Mike Foligno scores his fifth hat trick as a Sabre and Pierre Turgeon records four assists, including his 100th NHL point, in a 5-3 win at Hartford.
  • January 31, 2013: Thomas Vanek ties his career high with his second five-point game (3+2) in a 12-day span, leading the Sabres to a 7-4 win at Boston.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • The home team has won the last six meetings between these teams. Since the Devils’ last win at KeyBank Center on Jan. 30, 2018, the Sabres have won four straight games at home against New Jersey, outscoring them 23-7 in those contests.
  • The Sabres enter today’s game with wins in three consecutive matchups with the Devils for the first time since Oct. 23, 2010 to March 26, 2011. A victory today would extend the streak to four wins for the first time since Buffalo won six straight matchups from Feb. 21, 2000 to Feb. 22, 2001.
  • Before Saturday night’s games, only Edmonton’s Ethan Bear and Darnell Nurse (8 GF) have been on the ice for more 5-on-5 goals as a pair than Jake McCabe and Rasmus Ristolainen’s seven goals.

HOT AGAINST NEW JERSEY

  • Jack Eichel has recorded 12 points (6+6) in his 12 career games against the Devils.
  • Rasmus Dahlin has totaled six assists in five career games against New Jersey.
  • Taylor Hall has posted nine points (3+6) in eight career games against the Devils.
  • Jeff Skinner has totaled seven points (3+4) in his last seven matchups with New Jersey.
  • Victor Olofsson has recorded five points (4+1) in three career games against the Devils.
  • Sam Reinhart has scored four goals and recorded 14 shots in his last four games against New Jersey, scoring at least a goal in three of those contests.

GOOD DAY FOR A MATINEE

  • Today’s game is the third of 11 afternoon games for the Sabres this season. They are 2-0-0 in the first two.
  • Buffalo went 7-2-2 in afternoon games during the 2019-20 season, including a 6-2-0 record at home and a 1-0-2 mark on the road.

BACK-TO-BACK
Today’s game wraps up Buffalo’s third of eight sets of back-to-back games this season, which began with a 4-3 shootout win yesterday vs. New Jersey. The Sabres are 2-1-0 in the first game of back-to-back sets and 0-2-0 in the second game so far this season. Buffalo’s point breakdown in previous back-to-back sets is: four points (0), three points (0), two points (1), one point (0) and zero points (1).

EVEN-STRENGTH IMPROVEMENT
The Sabres have seen a positive trend at even strength through the team’s first nine games of the season. So far, Buffalo’s 5-on-5 numbers have improved on the team’s per-60 rates from last season in several meaningful categories, including shot differential, shot attempt differential, scoring chance differential, high-danger scoring chance differential and expected goal differential.

Buffalo Sabres at 5-on-5 (via NaturalStatTrick.com as of 1/30)
SF% CF% SCF% HDCF% xGF%
2019-20 48.13 (23rd) 49.13 (19th) 48.73 (20th) 48.19 (25th) 47.56 (25th)
2020-21 50.98 (15th) 51.80 (14th) 53.56 (11th) 60.48 (4th) 54.79 (7th)

Through nine games this season, the team has led its opponent at 5-on-5 in…

  • shots: four times
  • shot attempts: six times
  • scoring chances: seven times
  • high-danger scoring chances: eight times
  • expected goals: eight times

POWER UP

  • Buffalo finished yesterday’s game with the ninth-ranked power play in the league. The team has scored on 10 of its 35 power play opportunities this season for a 28.6 percent conversion rate.
  • Following yesterday’s game, the Sabres tied for the league lead with seven different players with at least one goal on the power play.
  • Victor Olofsson leads the team and is tied for fourth in the league with three power-play goals this season. At the conclusion of yesterday’s game, his 16 career power-play tallies trailed only Leon Draisaitl and David Pastrnak (20 each) for the most in the league since he made his NHL debut on March 28, 2019.
  • The Sabres have 10 players with at least one power-play point this season, tying for third-most in the league after yesterday’s game.

OUT OF THE BOX

  • At the conclusion of yesterday’s game, the Sabres were the least-penalized team in the NHL at 5:26 of penalty time per game.
  • At plus-15 (38 drawn/23 taken), the Sabres had the best penalty differential in the league following yesterday’s game.

BRICK WALL

  • Linus Ullmark stopped all three New Jersey shooters yesterday to improve to 2-1 with nine saves on 10 attempts this season.
  • Ullmark is 6-3 in shootouts in his career with 30 saves on 35 career shots faced (.857). His six career shootout wins rank him third in franchise history behind Ryan Miller (49) and Jhonas Enroth (10).
  • Following yesterday’s game, Ullmark’s shootout save percentage of .857 ranked second all-time among NHL goaltenders with at least 20 shots faced and first among active NHL goalies.

STAAL-TIME LEADERS

  • Eric Staal scored his 439th career goal yesterday vs. New Jersey to pass Gary Roberts and improve to 68th on the NHL’s all-time goal-scoring list. His next goal will tie Rick Tocchet for 67th.
  • Among active players, Staal’s total of 439 career regular-season goals trails only Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Marleau, and Sidney Crosby.
  • The goal was Staal’s 1,026th career point, breaking a tie with Patrik Elias for 82nd-most in NHL history. He is two points behind Brian Leetch for 81st.

RISTO IN THE RECORD BOOK

  • With his goal on Jan. 15 vs. Washington, Rasmus Ristolainen broke a tie with Bill Hajt for the 10th-most goals by a defenseman in Sabres history. He now trails Tyler Myers and Jim Schoenfeld by two goals for eighth-most.
  • Ristolainen’s first assist on Jan. 24 at Washington moved him past Jim Schoenfeld for the seventh-most career points recorded by a Sabres defenseman. He currently trails Bill Hajt by 13 points for sixth-most.
  • Ristolainen holds the franchise record for most overtime goals by a defenseman (4) and is tied for ninth all-time among the team’s blueliners with six game-winning goals.
  • Ristolainen’s career per-game output ranks him among the franchise’s top 15 defensemen in every major scoring category (min. 82 GP): .09 G/GP (14th), .37 A/GP (12th), .46 PTS/GP (11th)

WE LIKE EICH

  • With his shootout-winning goal yesterday vs. New Jersey, Jack Eichel joined Jake Guentzel as one of two players to score two shootout goals this season. He became the first NHL player to score two game-deciding goals in 2020-21.
  • Eichel’s goal on Thursday vs. NY Rangers moved him past Jochen Hecht for sole possession of the 19th-most goals in franchise history (139). He now trails Drew Stafford by six goals for 18th.
  • Eichel’s career per-game output ranks in the franchise’s top 15 in every major scoring category (min. 82 GP): .38 G/GP (14th), .57 A/GP (10th), .95 PTS/GP (11th)

SABRES AMONG LEAGUE-LEADERS (Sabres’ league rankings after yesterday’s game)

  • Buffalo Sabres: 55.7% FOW% (3rd), 28.6% PP% (9th), 32.1 S/GP (9th)
  • Eichel: 32 S (T-5th), 7 A (T-10th), 5 PPP (T-10th)
  • Hall: 8 A (T-6th), 5 PPP (T-10th)
  • Olofsson: 6 PPP (T-3rd), 3 PPG (T-4th)
  • Ristolainen: 31 hits (T-7th)

SABRES REAL-TIME STATS LEADERS
Hits: Ristolainen (31), Lazar (24), Miller (18)
Blocked Shots: McCabe (12), Ristolainen (12), Montour (10)
Shots: Eichel (32), Dahlin (28), Olofsson (28)

SABRES’ RECORD IN 10 GAME SEGMENTS [W-L-OTL (PTS), GF/GA, PP, PK] 1-10: 4-3-2 (10), 27/27, 10/35, 16/20

OVERTIME RESULTS (0-1; 126-135 all-time)
Jan. 28 vs. NYR: L, 3-2 (GDG-Lafrenière)

SHOOTOUT RESULTS (2-1; 79-72 all-time)
Jan. 22 at.WSH: L, 4-3 (GDG-Carlson)
Jan. 24 at WSH: W, 4-3 (GDG-Eichel)
Jan. 30 vs. NJD: W, 4-3 (GDG-Eichel)

MILESTONES APPROACHING (Player … Needs … Milestone)
Games Played
Cody Eakin … 5 games … 600 career games played
Curtis Lazar … 7 games … 300 career games played
Goals
Rasmus Ristolainen … 2 goals … 45 career goals (T-8th in franchise history, defensemen)
Kyle Okposo … 4 goals … 200 career goals
Assists
Riley Sheahan … 1 assist … 100 career assists
Points
Brandon Montour … 7 points … 100 career points
Wins
Carter Hutton … 6 wins … 100 career wins

RECENT MILESTONES
Rasmus Ristolainen … 500th NHL game … Jan. 26 vs. NYR

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