BLUES (25-21-9) at SABRES (27-23-6)
TV -- FS-Midwest (HD), MSG-B (HD)
Last 10 -- St. Louis 3-4-3; Buffalo 6-3-1
Season series -- This is the first and only meeting of the season between the interconference foes. They haven't met since Buffalo's 5-3 win at St. Louis on De. 27, 2009. Mike Grier and Tim Connolly each scored twice for the Sabres, while Alex Steen had a pair for the Blues.
Big story -- The Sabres have overcome a bad start to get within two points of the last playoff berth in the East -- they missed a chance to move into the top eight by losing 2-1 at home to Toronto on Wednesday. The Blues have been the opposite -- they started out hot but haven't been able to sustain their early success and need wins to avoid falling out of the race in the West.
Blues -- The Blues have earned points in five of their last six games, but sit nine points out of the eighth and final playoff seed in the Western Conference. With goalie Jaroslav Halak going on IR Thursday with a right hand injury, the push for a playoff berth gets that much more difficult. This is St. Louis' only road game in a five-game stretch before ending the month with three in a row on the road.
"I think the desperation was there," Blues coach Davis Payne said after Monday's 3-2 win against League-leading Vancouver. "It was five guys going over the boards, making sure they made the right plays. A big step for our club."
Sabres -- Calling the loss to the Leafs in the opener of a six-game homestand a disappointment would be an understatement. This stretch of home games is a chance for the Sabres to gain some ground in the East before hitting the road for seven in a row.
The loss kept the Sabres from passing Carolina, which lost at New Jersey.
"Tonight was a tough one for us," goalie Ryan Miller said. "They played a little bit of a smarter game than we've seen from them in the past."
The Sabres will look to more effectively handle seeing something new when they take on the Blues, a team they see only once a year.
Who's hot -- Drew Stafford has been shouldering the load for Buffalo, with two hat tricks in his past five games and 11 points in his past six. St. Louis has relied on the contributions of Brad Boyes, who has four points in his past four games.
Injury report -- The Blues have called up Ben Bishop to back up Ty Conklin while Halak heals. Ian Cole and David Perron (concussions) are still out indefinitely. … Sabres defenseman Steve Montador remains day-to-day with a concussion, and No. 1 center Derek Roy is gone for the season with a leg injury.
Stat pack -- Buffalo has given up a League-high 11 shorthanded goals this season.
Puck drop -- The Sabres have won the last two meetings between the teams -- but before that, the Blues had won 10 in a row.