BLUE JACKETS (14-8-1) at SABRES (9-13-3)
TV -- FS-O (HD), MSG-B (HD)
Last 10 -- Columbus 6-3-1; Buffalo 5-4-1
Season series -- This is the first of two meetings between the teams this season. The Blue Jackets have earned lopsided victories in their previous two meetings -- 4-0 on Feb. 6, 2010, and 6-1 on Nov. 14, 2008.
Big story -- The Nikita Filatov saga continues in Columbus. The sixth pick of the 2008 Entry Draft has been scratched for three of the team's last four games. Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel didn't appreciate Filatov's careless turnovers during last Friday's loss to Detroit, so he inserted fourth-line center Kyle Wilson into the lineup instead of the 20-year-old Russian. Filatov, who has no goals and 7 assists this season, also was a healthy scratch against the Islanders on Nov. 24 after oversleeping and missing a team function. In 41 NHL games with Columbus, Filatov has 6 goals and 13 points.
Blue Jackets -- Columbus dropped its third straight Wednesday in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Nashville Predators. Despite getting a pair of goals from Antoine Vermette and the first of the season by Kris Russell, the Blue Jackets held a lead for only 97 seconds of the game and were fortunate to come away with a point to remain among the top eight in the Western Conference. Goalie Steve Mason made 26 saves but allowed the only goal of the shootout, to Nashville's Steve Sullivan. For the season, Mason, winner of the 2009 Calder Trophy, is 8-7-1 with a 2.88 GAA and .912 save percentage. Backup goalie Mathieu Garon, meanwhile, is 6-1-0 with a 1.33 GAA and .950 save percentage.
Sabres -- Buffalo is coming off a five-day layoff after finishing November with a 6-6-1 mark. Following Friday's game against the Blue Jackets, the Sabres will have of stretch of four games in eight days, including contests in Ottawa and Boston. The Sabres are 4-8-1 at home and 5-5-2 on the road.
"I know what we've gone through here this last little while," forward Patrick Kaleta said about the team's struggles on home ice. "Being a fan once, we owe these guys, and they've stayed behind us."
Who's hot -- Columbus left wing R.J. Umberger is riding a career-high and franchise-record 10-game point-scoring streak, during which he's produced 3 goals and 10 assists.
Injury report -- Buffalo forward Drew Stafford (upper body) is day-to-day and center Tim Connolly (groin) is out. … Blue Jackets forward Kristian Huselius is on IR with a foot injury, and defenseman Marc Methot is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Stat pack -- Buffalo is 7-7-2 with goalie Ryan Miller in net and 2-6-1 with backups Patrick Lalime or Jhonas Enroth. Miller, the 2010 Vezina Trophy winner, missed five games in early November with a hip injury and missed two more with a groin injury in the middle of the month. … Columbus left wing Rick Nash notched his 200th career assist Wednesday in a 4-3 shootout loss to Nashville. Nash was stuck on 199 for seven games.
Puck drop -- The Blue Jackets had won a franchise-record five straight road games before dropping a 4-2 decision to the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday.