Game Preview: 2/22/21 at NY Islanders

GAME-DAY RESOURCES

Game Notes NHL Stats Press Clips

LAST GAME
Saturday, February 20
Buffalo 3 at New Jersey 2
Goals: Reinhart (2), Miller
Goalie: Ullmark (25 saves/27 shots)
PP: 1/1; PK: 2/3; Shots: Buffalo 29 – New Jersey 27

CURRENT INJURIES – (Man Games Lost: 39)
Player (injury, first game missed) – total games missed
Zemgus Girgensons (hamstring, Jan. 14; injured reserve) – 14 games
Rasmus Ristolainen (COVID-19, Feb. 15) – 4 games
Jake McCabe (lower body, Feb. 22) – 0 games

TRANSACTIONS IN PAST 7 DAYS
2/16: Recalled F Rasmus Asplund from the taxi squad; Loaned F Steven Fogarty and D Brandon Davidson to the taxi squad
2/17: Loaned F Rasmus Asplund and D William Borgen to the taxi squad; Reassigned F Steven Fogarty, F Andrew Oglevie, F C.J. Smith and D Jacob Bryson to Rochester (AHL)
2/18: Recalled D William Borgen from the taxi squad; loaned F Casey Mittelstadt to the taxi squad
2/21: Reassigned D Jacob Bryson and D Casey Fitzgerald from Rochester (AHL) to the taxi squad

UPCOMING GAMES
Tuesday, Feb. 23: Buffalo at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 25: New Jersey at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 27: Philadelphia at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 28: Philadelphia at Buffalo, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, March 2: Buffalo at NY Rangers, 7 p.m.

TONIGHT’S GAME
SABRES at ISLANDERS

  • This is the third of eight meetings between the Sabres and Islanders this season.
  • Last meeting: New York defeated Buffalo 3-0 in Buffalo on Feb. 16, 2021.
  • Next meeting: Thursday, March 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 176th game all-time between Buffalo and New York; Buffalo has an 82-68-25 series record.
  • The Sabres are 36-37-13 at home against the Islanders all-time.

THIS DATE IN SABRES HISTORY

  • The Sabres are 7-4-2 all-time on February 22.
  • February 22, 1989: Darcy Wakaluk stops all 13 shots faced in relief and the Sabres score five unanswered goals to erase a three-goal deficit and defeat the New York Islanders 7-5.
  • February 22, 2007: Patrick Kaleta records his first career point (an assist) in his NHL debut vs. Ottawa. The Sabres win the game 6-5 in a shootout after the teams combine to record 136 penalty minutes.
  • February 22, 2011: Terry Pegula announces his purchase of the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres would finish the season by going 16-4-4 in the 24 games after the purchase to make the playoffs.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • The Sabres’ special teams are plus-7 this season, with 15 goals for and eight goals against. Entering play Sunday, they were tied for the third-best differential in the league.
  • Buffalo’s penalty kill is 18-for-20 (90.0%) in the team’s last 11 games against the Islanders.
  • Taylor Hall has recorded 18 points (9+9) in his 18 games against the Islanders dating back to the beginning of the 2013-14 season.
  • Jack Eichel has totaled 10 points (3+7) in his 10 meetings with the Islanders since the beginning of the 2017-18 season.
  • Victor Olofsson has scored in three of his five career games against the Islanders.
  • Linus Ullmark is 3-2-1 in six career games against the Islanders with a .922 save percentage and a 2.16 goals-against average.

BACK-TO-BACK
Tonight’s game opens Buffalo’s fifth of 12 sets of back-to-back games this season, which continues tomorrow at New Jersey. The Sabres are 2-2-0 in the first game of back-to-back sets and 0-4-0 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 (2), one point (0) and zero points (2).

DRAWING ATTENTION

  • Entering play Sunday, the Sabres ranked second in the NHL with a team faceoff percentage of 54.5 percent.
  • The Sabres joined Nashville as the only teams 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 Sunday. All four Sabres are currently on pace for career-high faceoff percentages.
  • Eichel ranked seventh in in the NHL in faceoffs taken per game (19.9) and eighth in faceoffs won per game (10.6) entering play Sunday.
  • Entering play Sunday, Sheahan ranked fifth among all players with at least 30 faceoffs taken this season with a win percentage of 60.4 percent (55-for-91).

POWER UP

  • Buffalo entered play Sunday with the third-ranked power play in the league. The team has scored on 15 of its 46 power-play opportunities this season for a 32.6 percent conversion rate.
  • The Sabres have scored at least one power-play goal in eight of their last nine games, going 12-for-29 (41.1%) in those contests.
  • Before Sunday’s games, the Sabres tied Chicago for the NHL lead 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 10th-most in the league.
  • Victor Olofsson entered play Sunday tied for third in the league with five power-play goals and tied for sixth with 10 power-play points. His 18 career power-play tallies trailed only David Pastrnak (23), Leon Draisaitl (21) and Auston Matthews (20) for the most in the league since he made his NHL debut on March 28, 2019.

OUT OF THE BOX

  • Entering play Sunday, the Sabres were the least-penalized team in the NHL with 5:04 of penalty time per game.
  • At plus-15 (49 drawn/34 taken), the Sabres also had the best penalty differential in the league.

EVEN-STRENGTH IMPROVEMENT
The Sabres have seen a positive trend at even strength through the team’s first 14 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 2/21)
SF% CF% SCF% HDCF% xGF%
2019-20 48.13 (23rd) 49.13 (19th) 48.73 (20th) 48.19 (25th) 47.56 (25th)
2020-21 49.92 (17th) 50.61 (14th) 50.41 (16th) 56.34 (5th) 52.15 (9th)

 BRICK WALL

  • Linus Ullmark stopped all three shooters in Buffalo’s last shootout on Jan. 30 vs. New Jersey 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 Sunday, 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 Jan. 30 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.
  • With the goal, Staal also broke a tie with Patrik Elias for 82nd-most points in NHL history. With 1,027 career points, he is currently one point behind Brian Leetch for 81st-most.

WE LIKE EICH

  • Jack Eichel’s goal on Jan. 28 vs. NY Rangers moved him past Jochen Hecht for sole possession of the 19th-most goals in franchise history (139). He currently 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 (15th), .57 A/GP (10th), .95 PTS/GP (11th)

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)

SABRES AMONG LEAGUE-LEADERS (Sabres’ league rankings before 2/21 games)

  • Buffalo Sabres: 54.5% FOW% (2nd), 32.6% PP% (3rd)
  • Olofsson: 5 PPG (T-3rd), 10 PPP (T-6th)
  • Eichel: 9 PPP (T-9th)

SABRES REAL-TIME STATS LEADERS
Hits: Ristolainen (35), Lazar (28), Miller (26)
Blocked Shots: Miller (16), McCabe (15), Montour (14)
Shots: Eichel (45), Dahlin (38), Olofsson (38)

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
11-20: 1-3-0 (2), 5/11, 3/7, 5/8

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
Curtis Lazar … 4 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 … 6 points … 100 career points
Wins
Carter Hutton … 6 wins … 100 career wins 

RECENT MILESTONES
Cody Eakin … 600th NHL game … Feb. 20 at NJD

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