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Preview: Sabres at Blue Jackets

Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky goes for fourth straight shutout; Jack Eichel of Buffalo tries to extend point streak to 12 games

by Craig Merz / Correspondent

SABRES (27-28-12) at BLUE JACKETS (42-17-6)

7 p.m. ET; FS-O, MSG-B, NHL.TV


Sabres team scope

Center Jack Eichel continues to shine despite the Buffalo Sabres' fading Stanley Cup Playoff hopes. He has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) during an 11-game point streak, one game shy of the longest in the NHL this season, by Mikael Granlund of the Minnesota Wild. "It's adding a little more grit and compete in your game, getting into the corners, getting pucks back, a little more physical," Eichel said. Since Feb 1 he leads the NHL in assists (18) and points (24). He could add to his totals in the home-and-home on consecutive nights against the Columbus Blue Jackets because of their fast pace. "I like playing teams that want to play hockey," he said. "Teams that sit back and trap, those are usually more boring games. I enjoy it when a team wants to get up and go and doesn't sit back." Despite Eichel's success, the Sabres are 0-2-1 in the past three games and 1-5-2 in the past eight, and are nine points behind the New York Islanders for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference. "At this time of the year the frustration builds up more and more because you don't have as much time [to make up ground]," defenseman Justin Falk said.


Blue Jackets scope

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will try for his fourth straight shutout. He hasn't allowed a goal since Alex Galchenyuk of the Montreal Canadiens scored in overtime in the Blue Jackets' 1-0 loss Feb. 28. Since then he made 38 shutouts in a 1-0 defeat of the Minnesota Wild on March 2, and 20 saves in a 3-0 defeat of the New Jersey Devils on Sunday, and 33 saves in a 2-0 win against the Devils on Tuesday. He's 19:28 shy of tying Steve Mason's Blue Jackets record, set in 2008-09. "[Bobrovsky] has made really important saves at really important times in games," coach John Tortorella said Friday. "We've played better in front of him in not allowing as many chances as we were a few weeks ago, but we've given up some doozies when we have given up some here and he's made saves at really key times." The Blue Jackets also are going for a fourth straight home shutout, dating to the third period of their game against the Nashville Predators on Feb. 19, a span of 190:51. Joonas Korpisalo was in goal for a 7-0 defeat of the New York Islanders on Feb. 25, followed by Bobrovsky's wins against the Wild and the Devils on Tuesday. Bobrovsky will play Friday and it's likely Korpisalo will play in the second game of the back-to-back in Buffalo on Saturday. The goalies have split the past two back-to-backs. The Blue Jackets are 5-1-1 since returning from a five-day break and are five points behind the first-place Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division. One reason is the play of Scott Hartnell, Sam Gagner and Oliver Bjorkstrand, who has seven points (four goals, three assists) in 10 games since being recalled from Cleveland of the American Hockey League. "That line was the most consistent line in the last two games against New Jersey," Tortorella said Thursday.


Sabres projected lineup

Evander Kane -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Justin Bailey

Marcus Foligno -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart

Matt Moulson -- Evan Rodrigues -- Brian Gionta

Nicolas Deslauriers -- Zemgus Girgensons -- Tyler Ennis

Jake McCabe -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Justin Falk -- Zach Bogosian

Josh Gorges -- Cody Franson

Robin Lehner

Anders Nilsson

Scratched: None

Injured: Dmitry Kulikov (upper body), Kyle Okposo (ribs), William Carrier (knee), Johan Larsson (wrist)


Blue Jackets projected lineup

Nick Foligno -- Alexander Wennberg -- Brandon Saad

Boone Jenner -- Brandon Dubinsky -- Cam Atkinson

Scott Hartnell -- Sam Gagner - Oliver Bjorkstrand

Lauri Korpikoski -- William Karlsson -- T.J. Tynan

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Jack Johnson -- David Savard

Kyle Quincey -- Markus Nutivaara

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo

Scratched: Scott Harrington

Injured: Josh Anderson (knee), Matt Calvert (oblique strain), Lukas Sedlak (oblique strain), Ryan Murray (lower body)


Status report

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma will use the same lineup that dressed against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. … Murray is expected to miss his second straight game because of a lower-body injury. Tynan made his NHL debut against the Devils on Tuesday. He was sent to Cleveland on Wednesday but was an emergency recall Thursday.


Who's hot

O'Reilly has seven points (three goals, four assists) during a five-game point streak. Kane has one goal and two assists in the past two games. … Atkinson has three points (one goal, two assists) during a three-game point streak. Gagner has four points (two goals, two assists) during a three-game point streak.

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