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Sabres at Blue Jackets preview

Buffalo seeks first 3-0-0 start since 2008-09; Columbus eyes win after two losses

by Craig Merz / Independent Correspondent

SABRES (2-0-0) at BLUE JACKETS (0-2-0)

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


The Game

The Buffalo Sabres can win three straight games to open the season for the first time since 2008-09 when they play the winless Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Monday.

Buffalo hadn't won their first two games since the 2012-13 season and can match the 3-0-0 start of 11 seasons ago when the Sabres won their first four and went unbeaten in their first eight games (6-0-2).

Columbus last lost its first two games in 2016-17 before winning the third. The Blue Jackets haven't started 0-3-0 since 2015-16 when they went 0-8-0. Todd Richards was fired after the seventh game and current coach John Tortorella was hired.

The Blue Jackets lost three or more consecutive games twice last season, going 0-5-0 from Jan. 18-Feb. 2 and 0-2-1 from March 16-21.


Players to watch

Sabres forward Jack Eichel has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 12 games against the Blue Jackets, including seven points (three goals, four assists) in six games in Columbus.

Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson has eight points (four goals, four assists) and is plus-6 in his past six games vs. the Sabres.


They said it

"We're just in the beginning here of building our culture with Ralph in front. We've done a good job so far, but we don't take anything for granted." -- Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark on new coach Ralph Krueger

"There's no panic right now. It's a process. It's good that we can check ourselves right now at the door this early in the season and really figure it out so we can start rolling." -- Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones


Sabres projected lineup

Victor Olofsson -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart

Jeff Skinner -- Marcus Johansson -- Vladimir Sobotka

Jimmy Vesey -- Casey Mittelstadt -- Conor Sheary

Zemgus Girgensons -- Johan Larsson -- Kyle Okposo

Rasmus Dahlin -- Colin Miller

Jake McCabe -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Marco Scandella -- Henri Jokiharju

Linus Ullmark

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Evan Rodrigues, John Gilmour

Injured: Brandon Montour (hand), Zach Bogosian (hip) Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (hip); Matt Hunwick (neck)


Blue Jackets projected lines

Gustav Nyquist -- Pierre-Luc Dubois -- Cam Atkinson

Nick Foligno -- Boone Jenner -- Emil Bemstrom

Alexandre Texier -- Alexander Wennberg -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Sonny Milano -- Riley Nash -- Jakob Lilja

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Ryan Murray -- David Savard

Vladislav Gavrikov -- Markus Nutivaara

Joonas Korpisalo 

Elvis Merzlikins 

Scratched: Dean Kukan, Scott Harrington  

Injured: Brandon Dubinsky (wrist), Josh Anderson (back)


Status report

Ullmark will make his first start of the season. … Milano will replace Anderson, who was injured Saturday in a 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. … Nutivaara will replace Kukan after being a healthy scratch Saturday. … Korpisalo will start after backing up Merzlikins against the Penguins.


Stat pack

Krueger can become the first coach to win his first three games with Sabres. … Skinner has 20 points (11 goals, nine assists) in 26 games against the Blue Jackets. He has 199 assists in the NHL. … Bjorkstrand will play his 200th NHL game. … Jenner needs one point for 200 (102 goals, 97 assists) in the NHL.

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