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PREVIEW: Devils at Sabres 1.31.21

Devils look to bounce back from Saturday's shootout loss with a rematch against the Sabres on Sunday

by Catherine Bogart and Marc Ciampa / NewJerseyDevils.com

The Devils aim to bounce back from Saturday's shootout loss in Buffalo with another crack at the Sabres on Sunday afternoon. 

You can watch the game on MSG+ or listen on the Devils Hockey Network. 

Video: DEVILS MINUTE | Back to Back in Buffalo

Read the game preview below and check back a few hours before the game for any updates following Devils head coach Lindy Ruff's media availability. 

INSIDE THE DEVILS

Check out news and coverage from recent Devils practices. 

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE DEVILS BLOG

PRE-GAME STORY

BUFFALO, NY - After a game that went to a shootout on Saturday afternoon, the Devils are back at it again against the Sabres for another 1 p.m. ET game. It is the team's first back-to-back this season, in the middle of a busy week of games. As a result, Devils Head Coach Lindy Ruff and his coaching staff will monitor their player's energy throughout Sunday's game.

"We'll look at some of those shifts, the energy that the players have," said Ruff pre-game. "If some guys are low in energy, obviously there were some players that played bigger minutes, maybe [we'll] manage the length of shifts and put in a situation where we play all four lines on a more regular basis."

Over the last three games the Devils have found themselves tied after the first two periods of play. Yesterday's game went to a shootout after both teams were unable to convert on many close opportunities not only in the third but also the overtime period. When asked about what would be the key to get over the hump, Ruff said being solid defensively is a huge part to it.

"We have to play solid defensively knowing that the other team's gonna create some opportunities but don't have our structure breakdown where it's a management issue or we give a block away that allows a bigger opportunity which happened in the Philadelphia game," said Ruff. "If you look at all games are a little different. If you look at the Philly game, and the opportunities we had to finish some key offensive plays, believe we had a post, we had a crossbar, those go in we are in the right position."

PREVIEW

DEVILS (3-3-3) AT SABRES (4-3-3)

TV: MSG+ at 1:00 PM ET

Head-to-Head:

The Devils face the Sabres for the second time this season in eight meetings. On Saturday, the Devils opened the scoring but the lead changed hands a few times on the way to a 4-3 Sabres shootout win

Ty Smith, Janne Kuokkanen and Andreas Johnsson scored for New Jersey while Eric Staal, Tobias Rieder, and Victor Oloffsson scored for Buffalo. 

Devils Team Scope:

The Devils have dropped each of their last three games but did salvage a point in their shootout defeat on Saturday. They sit two points behind the Sabres. 

Jack Hughes continues to lead the Devils in scoring with eight points in eight games. Ty Smith is second with seven. Smith is tied for the NHL lead in points for rookies with Minnesota's Kirill Kaprizov. He's tied for fifth in the NHL for defense scoring. 

Sabres Team Scope:

The Sabres have now gone into shootout or overtime in four of their last five games, with all five games being decided by one goal. Three of those games have ended in a shootout with the Sabres winning two. The overtime game was a loss to the Rangers. 

Victor Olofsson leads the Sabres with four goals while Taylor Hall and Jack Eichel both have nine points to top the team's leaderboard.  

By the Numbers:

The home team has won the last six meetings between these teams with the Sabres winning the last three contests, all held at KeyBank Center. ... Sabres lead the NHL with seven different players having scored a power play goal this season. ... Linus Ullmark stopped all three Devils shots he faced on Saturday and in his shootout career, he's stopped 30 of 35 shots. ... Devils rank 31st in the NHL in face-off percentage at 39.9% while the Sabres are third at 55.7%.

Roster Update:

Devils: Nico Hischier (leg) is out. Sami Vatanen is awaiting the completion of the visa and quarantine process. Aaron Dell, Mackenzie Blackwood, Connor Carrick and Travis Zajac are all in COVID-19 Protocol. 

Sabres: Zemgus Girgensens (hamstring) is on IR; Sam Reinhart (upper body) is questionable

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