Season Series: It's the third of four meetings, with the Islanders having won the first two -- including a 4-2 victory at the Nassau Coliseum three weeks ago.
Big Story: Talk about two teams in desperate need of two points: The Sabres are 2-0-1 in their last three games, but left a point on the table Wednesday night when not even Ryan Miller's shutout was good enough in a 1-0 shootout loss to the Rangers. The Islanders try for a perfect week after winning 5-2 in Carolina on Tuesday and 2-1 in overtime at Ottawa on Friday to leap over the Sabres into 12th place in the East.
Sabres: Injuries have bitten the Sabres all season long, so the good news at Friday's practice was that Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford were able to skate after a battle with the flu -- one that, in Stafford's case, kept him out of Wednesday night's game.
For Buffalo to get back into the playoff race, someone will have to put the puck in the net -- something that didn't happen through 65 minutes against the Rangers. The Sabres come to Long Island ranked 27th in scoring.
"It'll get going," coach Lindy Ruff said of his team's offense. "At some point those will start going in. You don't always miss and you don't always hit somebody."
Islanders: The Isles have been desperate for scoring from any line that doesn't include John Tavares. They got it from a couple of unlikely sources on Friday -- third-liner Matt Martin's perfect wrist shot 5:27 into the third period tied the game at 1-1, and defenseman Mark Eaton scored his first goal in 121 regular-season games to give his team the win in overtime.
Not only did Eaton score -- he did it on a backhander off a spin move following a perfect pass from another defensive defenseman, Milan Jurcina.
"Juice passed up a shot in the slot and made a great play to me," Eaton said. "I just found a way to put it in the net.
Who's Hot: Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller is 2-0-1 in his last three games and has allowed just two goals. … Though he didn't have a point on Friday, Tavares has 22 points in his last 14 games -- including four in the win at Carolina on Tuesday.
Injury Report: Buffalo will be without its top scorer, Thomas Vanek, who left Tuesday's game with an upper-body injury and didn't play Wednesday. Forward Jochen Hecht (concussion) is nowhere near returning. … The Isles are without center Marty Reasoner (broken hand) and defenseman Mike Mottau (concussion).
Stat Pack: Since Nov. 12, Buffalo is averaging only 2.03 goals per game and has two or fewer in 15 of the last 19 contests. Part of the problem is a power play that has gone 3-for-32 in 13 games in the new year. … A win will get the Islanders back to .500 -- a level they haven't seen this late into a season since late in the 2007-08 season, when they were 32-32-7 after 71 games.
Puck Drop: Though the Isles enter the night nine points out of eighth place, Parenteau feels they still have time to make a run at their first playoff berth in five years.
"We're a confident bunch right now," said Parenteau, who's in the top-20 in scoring with 47 points and fifth in the League with 36 assists. "We play with a lot of passion and we know what's at stake in the next two weeks. Nothing's impossible for us. … A lot of guys are playing well. It's only nine points and there's a lot of games left."
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