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Game Preview: Islanders vs Sabres

The Islanders go for consecutive wins when they host the Sabres (7 p.m., MSG+, MSG GO)

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / New York Islanders

NEW YORK ISLANDERS (19-3-4) VS BUFFALO SABRES (9-20-7)

7 P.M. - BARCLAYS CENTER

TV: MSG+, MSG GO

RADIO: 88.7FM - WRHU, 970AM - The Answer, 103.9FM - LI News

GAME NOTES - MORNING SKATE UPDATES


After playing 12 games in 23 days, the holiday break allowed the New York Islanders some rest, but no relief from the gridlock that is the Metropolitan Division. 

Nine points separate first-place New Jersey (47 points) with eighth-place Philadelphia (38 points). The Islanders (42 points) are right in the middle, occupying the second wild card slot in the Eastern Conference. 

They're three points up on the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins, who are nipping at their heels to get into the playoff picture. 

Coming off a convincing 5-2 win over Winnipeg on Dec. 23, the Islanders look for consecutive wins for the first time this month. 

This is the second meeting between the teams this season as the Islanders previously beat the Sabres 6-3 on Oct. 7. John Tavares and Casey Cizikas led the way with two goals and an assist apiece. 

The Isles have won the last three meetings against the Sabes, outscoring Buffalo 15-6 over that span. The Isles are also 4-0-2 in their last six vs. Buffalo and are 9-1-5 in their last 15 games against the Sabres.

Video: Tavares, Cizikas lead Isles past Sabres in 6-3 win

LINEUP NOTES: 

Jaroslav Halak will start in goal. Dennis Seidenberg is in for Ryan Pulock. Same forwards from Saturday's win. Projected lines and Sabres lineup available in our morning skate updates.

BY THE NUMBERS: 

The Islanders currently have four of the NHL's top-20 scorers: 

John Tavares/Josh Bailey (46 points) - T-2nd
Anders Lee (37 points) - T-15th
Mathew Barzal (35 points) - T-19th (1st among rookies)

The Islanders 3.50 goals against per game is the highest in the NHL. The Isles 3.56 goals per game is second highest in the league. 

The Islanders power play has scored in six straight games, going 8-for-20 (40%) over that span. 

THE SABRES:

Last Game: L 4-2 at Carolina

Leading Scorers: 
Goals:
Evander Kane - 15
Assists: Jack Eichel - 19
Points: Evander Kane - 33

Power Play: 12.3% - 30th
Penalty Kill: 82.1% - 12th

Whereas goal scoring has come easy for the Islanders this season, that hasn't been the case for the Sabres, whose 2.17 goals-per-game rank 31st in the NHL. The Sabres are currently last in the Eastern Conference with 25 points. Buffalo is 1-3-1 over their last five games. 

Evander Kane and Jack Eichel lead the Sabres offensively, as the duo is first and second in goals, assists and points. Kane leads in goals (15) and points (33) and is second in assists (18). Eichel is second in goals (13) and points (32), but paces the Sabres with 19 helpers. Eichel has eight points (5G, 3A) in his last four games. 

Robin Lehner is 8-14-4 in net this season with a 2.73 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage. 

Ryan O'Reilly is expected to return to the Sabres lineup after missing Saturday's game to attend the birth of his first child. 

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