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Game Preview: Islanders at Sabres

The Islanders finish 2018 with a New Year's Eve game in Buffalo (6 p.m., MSG+)

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / NewYorkIslanders.com

NEW YORK ISLANDERS (20-13-4) AT BUFFALO SABRES (21-12-6)

6 PM | KEYBANK CENTER

WATCH: MSG+ | MSG GO | NHL.TV

LISTEN: 88.7FM WRHU | 103.9FM LI NEWS | RADIO.COM/ISLANDERS


SEASON SERIES: 0-0-0

This is the first of three meetings between the clubs this season. The teams play again in Buffalo on Feb. 12 and on Long Island on March 30. Buffalo won two of the three meetings last season. 


ISLANDERS NOTES: 

-   The Islanders have won three straight games and six of their last seven overall. They are most recently coming off a 4-0 shutout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

-   Robin Lehner is back in Buffalo for the first time since leaving the Sabres via free agency over the summer. Lehner spent three seasons with the Sabres from 2015-18.

-   Lehner is heating up for the Isles, having won four straight games. He made 36 saves for his second shutout of the season on Saturday night and has allowed one goal or fewer in six of his last seven games. UPDATE: Lehner will start on Monday vs his former team.

-   Mathew Barzal is on fire for the Islanders. Barzal has eight points (6G, 2A) in his last four games and is coming off a natural hat trick against the Maple Leafs on Saturday. 

- Barry Trotz (782 career wins) is currently tied with Al Arbour for fourth place on the NHL's all-time coaching wins list. His next win will move him into sole possession of fourth.

- The Islanders play their last game of 2018 on Monday night. The Isles are 35-35-10 in 80 games in the calendar year. 


SABRES NOTES: 

-   After missing the playoffs for seven straight seasons, the Buffalo Sabres currently sit in third place in the Atlantic Division and are undergoing a remarkable turnaround. The Sabres went 25-45-12 (62 points) last season and are 21-12-6 (48 points) this season.  

-   The Sabres are scoring more goals this season and allowing fewer. They are scoring 2.85 goals-per-game this season, up from a league-low 2.41 last season. They've cut their goals against from 3.39 to 2.85.

-   Jack Eichel leads the Sabres with 49 points (15G, 34A) in 39 games. 

-   Jeff Skinner leads the Sabres with 26 goals, already topping his total from last season (24). Skinner's career-high is 37 and looks reachable if he continues to keep up his current pace. 

-   The Islanders will play against 2018 first-overall pick Rasmus Dahlin for the first time. Dahlin has 20 points (4G, 16A) which lead all rookie defensemen and is fourth-overall amongst rookies. 

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