SABRES (13-29-7) at BLUE JACKETS (26-20-4)
TV: MSG-B; FS-O
Last 10: Buffalo 2-5-3; Columbus 9-1-0
Season series: The Buffalo Sabres are making their lone visit to Nationwide Arena in hopes of avoiding a series sweep by the Columbus Blue Jackets, who won two trips to Buffalo, including a 4-3 shootout victory a week ago.
Big story: The Blue Jackets and Sabres are streaking, but in opposite directions. Columbus comes to First Niagara Center hoping to extend its franchise-record eight-game winning streak. Buffalo, last in the overall standings, hasn't won in its past five games despite scoring three goals in each.
Sabres: After losing three in a row at home, the Sabres are looking forward to a stretch when they play four of their next five games away from Buffalo.
"Sometimes, you go on the road and it's good for you when you're in a little bit of a funk," forward Matt Moulson told the team website after practice Friday at First Niagara Center. "You can play a lot simpler. There's no one to impress on the road and you can concentrate on just grinding out wins. We'll approach it like that, play a simple game and get wins."
The Sabres are aware they'll be trying to cool off the NHL's hottest team.
"They've been great of late," center Cody Hodgson said. "They've got a lot of firepower, and just the way they play the game is fast. We have to eliminate that."
Blue Jackets: Columbus is in a stretch when it will play nine of 12 games at Nationwide Arena before a three-game California trip wraps up the pre-Olympic portion of the schedule, and the Blue Jackets are taking full advantage. Five of the eight victories during the winning streak have come at home, including 5-2 against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
"We're feeding off the crowd and the energy," coach Todd Richards told the team website. "That's probably been the biggest factor: our comfort level, our confidence level, and the energy of the crowd at Nationwide Arena."
One tactical advantage home teams enjoy is getting the last line change. Richards said he feels all of his forwards are playing so well he doesn't need to do a lot of matching.
"I'm not worrying as much about that because of how our lines are going," Richards said. "We're rolling four lines and giving guys ice time and are able to spread it around. We're getting all four lines going, all six defensemen going. We have that depth going, and that's big for us."
Who's hot: Sabres forward Tyler Ennis has a point in six straight games, including a goal Thursday in a 5-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. … Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky had a goal and an assist against the Flyers, giving him six points in his past four games. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is 6-0-0 and has allowed 11 goals since returning from a groin injury.
Injury report: Ennis skipped practice Friday because he was "a little banged up," according to coach Ted Nolan, but is expected to play. Forwards Matt D'Agostini (upper body) and Cody McCormick (upper body) are out. … Blue Jackets forwards Blake Comeau (knee), Marian Gaborik (collarbone) and Jared Boll (ankle) are out, though Comeau and Gaborik have started skating.
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