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Preview: Sabres at Blue Jackets

Columbus looks to gain in Metropolitan; Buffalo goes for fifth win in six games

by Craig Merz / NHL.com Correspondent

SABRES (32-32-12) at BLUE JACKETS (48-19-7)

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

 

Sabres team scope

The Buffalo Sabres are eight points behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference following a 4-2 win against the Florida Panthers on Monday. It was their second straight win and fourth in five games. Buffalo also defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Saturday. "In the last game against Toronto, we recognized that when we play a certain way and we play that way consistently throughout the game, we have success," defenseman Josh Gorges said Monday. "The theme was the same for both of them," coach Dan Bylsma said. "We came out with a lot of energy. We came out with the forecheck in the offensive zone and kind of took the game to the opposition. We've got to keep going from there." The Sabres did not have a morning skate so it is not known if Robin Lehner will start his sixth straight game. He made 30 saves on Monday.

 

Blue Jackets team scope

The Columbus Blue Jackets are tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for second place in the Metropolitan Division, three points behind the Washington Capitals. Columbus and Washington each have eight games left; Pittsburgh has seven. The Blue Jackets have scored four goals in three games (1-1-1) and coach John Tortorella said the power play needs to improve. "It's not only struggling but it's taking momentum away," he said Monday. In a 1-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, the Blue Jackets had no shots on two power plays and two games earlier failed to score during a five-minute man-advantage against Toronto. "We tried to stay with it a long as we can with the two groups because it was very effective most of the year," Tortorella said. "These next few games, we're going to see a change in personnel a little bit." Seth Jones will replace Zach Werenski and Scott Hartnell will take Sam Gagner's spot on the No. 1 unit. The Blue Jackets have not scored a power-play goal in the past six games (0-for-9) and have 11 goals in their past 90 attempts. Columbus has scored multiple power-play goals in a game once in the past 28 games -- scoring twice against the Sabres on March 10. "Entries have been a struggle," Tortorella said. "You can sense the frustration when you can't even enter the zone. We need something good to happen. We've got good people. We'll work through it."

 

Sabres projected lineup

Tyler Ennis -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Kyle Okposo

Marcus Foligno -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart

Evander Kane -- Evan Rodrigues -- Brian Gionta

Matt Moulson -- Zemgus Girgensons -- William Carrier

Jake McCabe -- Dmitry Kulikov

Brady Austin -- Zach Bogosian

Josh Gorges -- Justin Falk

Anders Nilsson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Nicolas Deslauriers

Injured: Taylor Fedun (upper body), Cody Franson (undisclosed), Johan Larsson (wrist)

Suspended: Rasmus Ristolainen

 

Blue Jackets projected lineup

Nick Foligno -- Alexander Wennberg -- Brandon Saad

Boone Jenner -- Brandon Dubinsky - -- Cam Atkinson

William Karlsson - Lukas Sedlak - Matt Calvert

Scott Hartnell -- Sam Gagner -- Josh Anderson

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Jack Johnson -- David Savard

Kyle Quincey -- Markus Nutivaara

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo

Scratched: Lauri Korpikoski, Scott Harrington

Injured: Ryan Murray (hand), Oliver Bjorkstrand (undisclosed)

 

Status report

Ristolainen will serve the final game of a three-game suspension for interference on Jake Guentzel of the Penguins on March 21. Ristolainen is eligible to return Sunday against the New York Islanders. … Bjorkstrand will miss his third straight game … Karlsson was moved from center to left wing in the last game, with Sedlak staying in the middle. "We play kind of a hybrid center/left wing, me and [Sedlak]," Karlsson said Monday. "The first one down takes care of the defensive work."

 

Who's hot

Eichel has 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists) in his past 20 games. ... O'Reilly has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in his past 14 games. ... Okposo has six points (one goal, five assists) in his past four games. … Bobrovsky is 9-0-2 with a 1.08 goals-against average, a .967 save percentage and four shutouts in his past 11 starts.

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