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Game Preview: Islanders at Sabres

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders

ISLANDERS (23-11-0) at SABRES (13-19-3)

TV: MSG+, MSG-B, BELL TV

Season series: The New York Islanders won two of three games against the Buffalo Sabres last season, including a season-ending 4-3 shootout victory on April 13 at First Niagara Center in which Brock Nelson had the game-tying goal late in the third period and the deciding goal in the tiebreaker.

Islanders team scope: The Islanders resume play after the Christmas break in second place in the Metropolitan Division despite a 3-1 home loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. Backup goaltender Chad Johnson made 18 saves in his first start in two weeks; starter Jaroslav Halak was given what coach Jack Capuano called "another maintenance day" and didn't even dress; New York called up Kevin Poulin on an emergency basis to back up Johnson. Nelson's tying goal on the final day of the 2013-14 season was his 14th; he's matched that total in 34 games this season, and his 27 points are one more than he had in '13-14.

Sabres team scope: Buffalo had a chance to end its pre-Christmas schedule on a high note, but the Sabres couldn't hold a 3-1 second-period lead and lost 6-3 at the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday, extending their losing streak to four games after a stretch in which they won 10 of 13. The Sabres were missing eight regulars in that game because of injury or illness and recalled five players from Rochester of the American Hockey League to fill the holes in the lineup. Four of those players were sent back to Rochester on Wednesday but could be recalled if needed. The Sabres are still last in the NHL with 65 non-shootout goals in 35 games (1.87 per game).


New York Islanders
23-11-0 (46 points – 2nd in Metropolitan Division, 2nd in Eastern Conference)
10-7-0 road
Buffalo Sabres
13-19-3 (29 points - 8th in Atlantic Division, 15th in Eastern Conference)
9-8-2 home
7:00  p.m.
First Niagara Center

Buffalo, NY

Television:
MSG PLUS
Play-by-play: Howie Rose
; Color: Butch Goring
Channel Finder

Radio: WRHU 88.7 FM, LI News Radio 103.9 FM
Play-by-play: Chris King
Islanders News:
- Canadiens 3, Islanders 1 (Dec. 23)
- Islanders TV
Islanders player to watch
Kyle Okposo - Forward

Kyle Okposo scored the Islanders lone goal against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night. Okposo leads the Islanders with 21 assists and is tied for team lead in points with 29 (eight goals, 21 assists). The hard-nosed winger has points in two straight (one goal, one assist) and goals in three of his last six games. Okposo had a goal and an assist in two games vs. the Sabres last season.
Sabres player to watch
Zemgus Girgensons - Forward

Zemgus Girgensons leads the Sabres with nine goals and is second on the team with 18 points through 35 games. Girgensons leads the NHL’s all-star fan voting with around 1.3M votes, largely due to a push from his native country, Latvia. Girgensons has already eclipsed his goals totals from his rookie year and should surpass his 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) set last season.
New York Islanders previous game lines
Forwards
12 Josh Bailey 91 John Tavares 21 Kyle Okposo
84 Mikhail Grabovski51 Frans Nielsen86 Nikolay Kulemin
27 Anders Lee
29 Brock Nelson 18 Ryan Strome
17 Matt Martin – 
53 Casey Cizikas 15 Cal Clutterbuck

Defensemen

44 Calvin de Haan 3 Travis Hamonic
2 Nick Leddy
55 Johnny Boychuk
14 Thomas Hickey
11 Lubomir Visnovsky

Goaltenders
30 Chad Johnson
60 Kevin Poulin

Buffalo Sabres previous game lines
Forwards
26 Matt Moulson - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 63 Tyler Ennis
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 65 Brian Flynn - 21 Drew Stafford
19 Cody Hodgson - 25 Mikhail Grigorenko - 80 Christ Stewart
22 Johan Larsson - 59 Tim Schaller - 36 Patrick Kaleta

Defensemen
4 Josh Gorges - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
51 Nikita Zadorov - 3 Mark Pysyk
61 Andre Benoit - 41 Andrej Meszaros

Goaltenders
1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth


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