Game Preview: 2/2/21 at NY Islanders

GAME-DAY RESOURCES

Game Notes NHL Stats Press Clips

LAST GAME
Sunday, January 31
New Jersey 5 at Buffalo 3
Goals: Lazar, Dahlin, Ristolainen
Goalie: Hutton (32 saves/36 shots); 1 ENG
PP: 2/4; PK: 3/3; Shots: New Jersey 37 – Buffalo 33

CURRENT INJURIES – (Man Games Lost: 21)
Player (injury, first game missed) – total games missed
Zemgus Girgensons (hamstring, Jan. 14; injured reserve) – 10 games
Sam Reinhart (upper body, Jan. 30) – 2 games

TRANSACTIONS IN PAST 7 DAYS
1/31: Recalled F Casey Mittelstadt from the taxi squad
2/1: Reassigned F Jean-Sebastien Dea and F C.J. Smith to the taxi squad; Reassigned F Jack Quinn to Rochester (AHL)

UPCOMING GAMES
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.
Saturday, Feb. 13: Washington at Buffalo, 1 p.m.

TONIGHT’S GAME
SABRES at ISLANDERS

  • This is the first of eight meetings between the Sabres and Islanders this season.
  • Last meeting: New York defeated Buffalo 3-2 (OT) in New York on Dec. 14, 2019.
  • Next meeting: Thursday, Feb. 4 in New York
  • The Sabres are 2-6-2 in their last 10 games vs. the Islanders; 3-5-2 on the road.
  • This is the 174th game all-time between Buffalo and New York; Buffalo has an 82-66-25 series record.
  • The Sabres are 36-37-13 on the road against the Islanders all-time.

THIS DATE IN SABRES HISTORY

  • The Sabres are 9-7-3 all-time on February 2.
  • February 2, 1975: Buffalo records 58 shots on goal and Jerry Korab and Peter McNab each score two goals in the Sabres’ 8-1 victory over the Kansas City Scouts.
  • February 2, 1998: The Sabres defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-3, led by Brian Holzinger’s career-high four points (1+3) and a 35-save performance from Steve Shields.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • Buffalo’s penalty kill is 15-for-16 (93.8%) in the team’s last nine games against the Islanders.
  • Victor Olofsson enters today’s game on a six-game point streak (2+5) that ties as the longest of his career.
  • The Sabres’ special teams are plus-8 this season, with 12 goals for and four goals against. Entering play Monday, they tied the Boston Bruins for the second-best differential in the league, trailing only the Colorado Avalanche (plus-12).
  • Before Monday night’s games, only Edmonton’s Ethan Bear and Darnell Nurse (9 GF) had been on the ice for more 5-on-5 goals as a pair than Jake McCabe and Rasmus Ristolainen’s eight goals.
  • Rasmus Dahlin’s 32 shots on goal led all NHL defensemen and tied for 12th-most overall entering play Monday.

HOT AGAINST NEW YORK

  • Taylor Hall has recorded 18 points (9+9) in 18 career games against the Islanders, including eight (5+3) in eight road games.
  • Jack Eichel has totaled 10 points (3+7) in his eight meetings with the Islanders since the beginning of the 2017-18 season, including points in all four road games (2+4).
  • Colin Miller has recorded four points (1+3) in four meetings games against the Islanders since the beginning of the 2017-18 season.
  • Victor Olofsson has scored a goal in both of his previous road games against the Islanders.
  • Linus Ullmark is 3-1-1 in five career games against the Islanders with a .928 save percentage and a 1.98 goals-against average.

DRAWING ATTENTION

  • Entering play Monday, the Sabres ranked second in the NHL with a team faceoff percentage of 55.9 percent.
  • The Sabres were the only team whose top four faceoff takers (Jack Eichel, Eric Staal, Cody Eakin and Riley Sheahan) all had a faceoff percentage of at least 50 percent entering play Monday. All four players are currently on pace for career-high faceoff percentages.
  • Eichel tied for second in the NHL in faceoffs taken (213) and ranked third in faceoffs won (116) before Monday’s games.
  • Before Monday’s games, Sheahan ranked third among all players with at least 30 faceoffs taken this season with a win percentage of 65.2 percent (45-for-69).

POWER UP

  • Buffalo entered play Monday with the seventh-ranked power play in the league. The team has scored on 12 of its 39 power play opportunities this season for a 30.8 percent conversion rate.
  • The Sabres have scored at least one power-play goal in each of their last five games, going 9-for-22 (40.9%) in those contests.
  • Entering play Monday, the Sabres led the NHL with nine different players with at least one goal on the power play. Their 10 players with at least one power-play point this season tied for fourth-most in the league.
  • Victor Olofsson leads the team and entered play Monday tied for sixth in the league with three power-play goals this season. His team-high eight power-play points trailed only Connor McDavid (10) and Leon Draisaitl (9). His 16 career power-play tallies trailed only Draisaitl and David Pastrnak (20 each) for the most in the league since he made his NHL debut on March 28, 2019.

KILLING IT

  • Entering play Monday, the Sabres were the least-penalized team in the NHL with 5:30 of penalty time per game. At plus-16 (42 drawn/26 taken), the Sabres also had the best penalty differential in the league.
  • The Sabres have killed 13 of their last 14 penalties to improve to 82.6 percent on the penalty kill this season, ranking 10th in the NHL entering play Monday.
  • Through 10 games, Buffalo has allowed just four power-play goals against. Entering play Monday, the team ranked fifth in the NHL with .40 power-play goals against per game.
  • In the Sabres’ last game on Sunday vs. New Jersey, the penalty kill went 3-for-3 and did not surrender a single shot on goal in 5:09 of shorthanded time.

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 2/1)
SF% CF% SCF% HDCF% xGF%
2019-20 48.13 (23rd) 49.13 (19th) 48.73 (20th) 48.19 (25th) 47.56 (25th)
2020-21 49.68 (20th) 50.86 (15th) 51.33 (15th) 54.78 (8th) 51.11 (14th)

Through 10 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

BRICK WALL

  • Linus Ullmark stopped all three New Jersey shooters on Saturday 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).
  • Entering play Monday, 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 on Saturday 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 one goal 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 11 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), .38 A/GP (12th), .46 PTS/GP (11th)

WE LIKE EICH

  • Entering play Monday, Jack Eichel ranked in the NHL’s top 10 in both assists (9, T-7th) and points (11, T-8th).
  • His 11 points (2+9) through 10 games tie as his second-best start to a season, trailing only his 14 points (6+8) in the first 10 games of the 2019-20 season.
  • 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), .96 PTS/GP (11th)

SABRES AMONG LEAGUE-LEADERS (Sabres’ league rankings before 2/1 games)

  • Buffalo Sabres: 55.9% FOW% (2nd), 30.8% PP% (7th), 32.2 S/GP (7th), 82.6 PK% (10th)
  • Eichel: 116 FOW (3rd), 39 S (T-5th), 7 PPP (T-5th), 9 A (T-7th), 11 PTS (T-8th)
  • Olofsson: 8 PPP (T-3rd), 3 PPG (T-6th)
  • Ristolainen: 35 hits (6th)

SABRES REAL-TIME STATS LEADERS
Hits: Ristolainen (35), Lazar (25), Miller (18)
Blocked Shots: McCabe (13), Ristolainen (13), Montour (12)
Shots: Eichel (39), Dahlin (32), Olofsson (30)

SABRES’ RECORD IN 10 GAME SEGMENTS [W-L-OTL (PTS), GF/GA, PP, PK] 1-10: 4-4-2 (10), 30/32, 12/39, 19/23

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 … 4 games … 600 career games played
Curtis Lazar … 6 games … 300 career games played
Goals
Rasmus Ristolainen … 1 goal … 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
N/A

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