Game Preview: 2/23/21 at New Jersey

GAME-DAY RESOURCES

Game Notes NHL Stats Press Clips

LAST GAME
Monday, February 22
Buffalo 2 at NY Islanders 3
Goals: Lazar, Reinhart
Goalie: Ullmark (20 saves/23 shots)
PP: 1/3; PK: 1/2; Shots: Buffalo 36 – NY Islanders 23

CURRENT INJURIES – (Man Games Lost: 43)
Player (injury, first game missed) – total games missed
Zemgus Girgensons (hamstring, Jan. 14; injured reserve) – 15 games
Rasmus Ristolainen (COVID-19, Feb. 15) – 5 games
William Borgen (upper body, Feb. 22) – 1 game
Jake McCabe (knee, Feb. 22) – 1 game

TRANSACTIONS IN PAST 7 DAYS
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
2/22: Recalled F Casey Mittelstadt and D Brandon Davidson from the taxi squad

UPCOMING GAMES
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.
Thursday, March 4: Buffalo at NY Islanders, 7 p.m.

TONIGHT’S GAME
SABRES at DEVILS

  • This is the fourth of eight meetings between the Sabres and Devils this season.
  • Last meeting: Buffalo defeated New Jersey 3-2 in New Jersey on Feb. 20
  • Next meeting: Thursday, Feb. 25 in Buffalo
  • The Sabres are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games vs. the Devils; 3-5-2 on the road.
  • This is the 163rd game all-time between Buffalo and New Jersey; Buffalo has an 80-56-26 series record.
  • The Sabres are 36-28-15 on the road against the Devils all-time.

THIS DATE IN SABRES HISTORY

  • The Sabres are 15-6-0 all-time on February 23.
  • February 23, 2011: The Sabres defeat the Atlanta Thrashers 4-1 in the team’s first game under the ownership of the Pegulas, a day after Terry and Kim Pegula announced their purchase of the team. All three members of the French Connection surprise Terry on the ice in a pre-game ceremony.
  • February 23, 2019: Sam Reinhart records his third career hat trick as the Sabres top the Washington Capitals by a score of 5-2.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • The Sabres are 4-1-0 in their last five games against the Devils, outscoring New Jersey 24-13 in those contests. It’s the first time the Sabres have won at least four out of five games against the Devils since Buffalo won six straight matchups from Feb. 21, 2000 to Feb. 22, 2001.
  • The home team had won six straight games between these teams before each team won on the road in the two most recent games in the series. With a win tonight, the Sabres would have wins in consecutive visits to New Jersey for the first time since Oct. 23 and Nov. 10, 2010.
  • The Sabres’ special teams are plus-7 this season, with 16 goals for and nine goals against. Following last night’s game, they were tied for the third-best differential in the league.

HOT AGAINST NEW JERSEY

  • Sam Reinhart has scored six goals and recorded 17 shots in his last five games against New Jersey, scoring at least a goal in four of those contests.
  • Jack Eichel has recorded 15 points (6+9) in his 14 career games against the Devils.
  • Rasmus Dahlin has totaled eight points (1+7) in seven career games against New Jersey.
  • Taylor Hall has posted 10 points (3+7) in 10 career games against the Devils.
  • Victor Olofsson has recorded seven points (4+3) in five career games against the Devils.

BACK-TO-BACK
Tonight’s game wraps up Buffalo’s fifth of 12 sets of back-to-back games this season, which began with a 3-2 loss last night at NY Islanders. The Sabres are 2-3-0 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

  • Following last night’s game, the Sabres ranked second in the NHL with a team faceoff percentage of 54.0 percent.
  • The Sabres joined Nashville and NY Islanders 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 following last night’s game. All four Sabres are currently on pace for career-high faceoff percentages.
  • Eichel ranked eighth in in the NHL in faceoffs taken per game (19.6) and 10th in faceoffs won per game (10.1) after last night’s game.
  • Following last night’s game, Sheahan ranked fifth among all players with at least 30 faceoffs taken this season with a win percentage of 60.6 percent (57-for-94).

POWER UP

  • Buffalo finished last night’s game with the third-ranked power play in the league. The team has scored on 16 of its 49 power-play opportunities this season for a 32.7 percent conversion rate.
  • The Sabres have scored at least one power-play goal in nine of their last 10 games, going 13-for-32 (40.6%) during that stretch. It is the team’s best power-play percentage in a 10-game span since they went 11-for-24 (45.8%) from March 7 to 28, 2017.
  • Following last night’s game, the Sabres tied Chicago for the NHL lead with nine different players with at least one goal on the power play.
  • Victor Olofsson finished last night’s game tied for fourth in the league with five power-play goals and tied for third with 11 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

  • Following last night’s game, the Sabres were the least-penalized team in the NHL with 5:00 of penalty time per game.
  • At plus-16 (52 drawn/36 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 15 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 2/22)
SF% CF% SCF% HDCF% xGF%
2019-20 48.13 (23rd) 49.13 (19th) 48.73 (20th) 48.19 (25th) 47.56 (25th)
2020-21 49.93 (15th) 50.37 (15th) 49.72 (18th) 54.15 (7th) 51.29 (12th)

 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).
  • Following last night’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 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)

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

  • Buffalo Sabres: 54.0% FOW% (2nd), 32.7% PP% (T-3rd)
  • Olofsson: 11 PPP (T-3rd), 5 PPG (T-4th)
  • Eichel: 9 PPP (T-10th)

SABRES REAL-TIME STATS LEADERS
Hits: Ristolainen (35), Lazar (32), Miller (28)
Blocked Shots: Miller (17), McCabe (15), Montour (14)
Shots: Eichel (48), Olofsson (43), Hall (42)

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: 1-4-0 (2), 7/14, 4/10, 6/10

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 … 3 games … 300 career games played
Goals
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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