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Game Preview: Blue Jackets vs. Sabres

Buffalo visits Nationwide Arena to close out season series

by Alison Lukan @AlisonL / BlueJackets.com

GAME 75: BLUE JACKETS VS. SABRES

NATIONWIDE ARENA, 7:00 P.M.

TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO / FOX SPORTS GO

RADIO: 97.1 & BLUEJACKETS.COM

Tuesday marks the deciding game of the season series between the Sabres and the Blue Jackets when Buffalo comes to Nationwide Arena. Each team has won one game thus far this year.

The Sabres come to Columbus on the second game of their 17th back-to-back of the season. They play Florida at home Monday. Buffalo will have to fight against a season trend that has put them on the losing end of having two games in a row. They are 6-9-1 in the second game of a back-to-back this season.

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But don't count Buffalo out. Going into Monday's game, the Sabres have won three of their last four games, including a 5-2 victory over the Maple Leafs Mar. 25. This Sabres team also beat the Jackets 5-3 back on Mar. 11.

Buffalo continues to be powered by the play of 20-year-old Jack Eichel. He has yet to go two games without a point since Jan. 31 - Feb. 2, and in the 25 games since, has totaled 32 points (11-21-32).  

"They have some very skilled guys," William Karlsson said. "We have to be aware of those and we're good when we play as a team, so it will need to be a team effort."

Video: Bill on adjusting to playing wing

Here are five things to watch for:

What's better than a Tuesday at Nationwide Arena?

The game against the Sabres marks the ninth, and final, Tuesday of the regular season that the Jackets will play at home. As it turns out, Tuesday is a day of the week that's been particularly favorable to the Jackets this year. The home team has yet to lose on a Tuesday, going 8-0-0 this season.

New look power play.

John Tortorella moved around his players on the power play in Monday's practice to have two more balanced units going into the final eight games of the regular season. The once top ranked Jackets' power play is still ninth overall in the league, but has sputtered of late, converting just one power play opportunity in their last eight games.

Tortorella wants to see his special teams return to form as far as entering the zone, and retrieving pucks. "We've got some good people, we're going to work through it," Tortorella said.

Video: Torts on improving the CBJ power play

Turning away opponents' power plays.

The Jackets may have some work to do to reignite their own power play, but the penalty kill units have been solid this season, particularly at home. The Jackets enter Tuesday's contest against Buffalo having killed 21 of 22 penalties at home, giving them the fifth best home penalty kill performance in the League this season.

Tuesday will be a good test of that record. Buffalo comes to town with the current number power play in the League (24.5%).

Third pairing performing.

Since joining the Jackets at the trade deadline, defenseman Kyle Quincey has played in 12 of the team's 13 games. Recently, he's been paired with Scott Harrington who's played in three of the last five matchups.

"'Harry' keeps on pushing," Tortorella said. "He competes and is aggressive up the ice. In the little time he has played this year he has improved and that's because of his work habits. He just continues to work at his game."

Sharing responsibilities.

Sunday against Philadelphia, Tortorella moved Karlsson to left wing on a line centered by Lukas Sedlak. The line was credited as being the most consistent of the game by their head coach. Karlsson had fun in a different role, but, the natural center said he and Sedlak still share the workload in the middle of the ice.

"I'd say we played hybrid center-left wing," Karlsson said. "The first one down takes care of the defensive work. It's been a change, but it's been fun."

Video: Hartsy on Tuesday's game vs. Buffalo

PROJECTED CBJ LINEUP:

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