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Blue Jackets at Sabres preview

Columbus looks to gain in Eastern wild-card race; Buffalo has lost six straight

by Heather Engel / Correspondent

BLUE JACKETS (44-30-4) at SABRES (31-37-10)

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


The Game

The Columbus Blue Jackets look to gain ground in the Eastern Conference wild-card race when they visit the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Sunday.

Columbus holds the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. They're tied in points with the Montreal Canadiens, with a game in hand, and trail the Carolina Hurricanes, who hold the first wild card, by one point.

The Blue Jackets have outscored opponents 20-4 in a four-game winning streak.

The Sabres, who have lost six in a row, are 1-11-2 in their past 14 games and 3-16-3 in their past 22.


Players to watch

Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin has seven points (two goals, five assists) in a four-game point streak.

Sabres center Jack Eichel has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 11 games against the Blue Jackets.


They said it

"We're scoring some goals here, we're playing looser offensively. The monkey's off the back … and we want to keep this good thing going. Everyone's chipping in, which is great, so we want to continue." -- Blue Jackets center Matt Duchene on the four-game winning streak

"I don't think we've quit. At this point, it's definitely tough. It's a struggle. It's been a long year, you can say that. Quit? No. We're going to play [Sunday]. We should be mad about this and bring our best effort." -- Sabres captain Jack Eichel


Blue Jackets projected lineup

Artemi Panarin -- Matt Duchene -- Cam Atkinson

Ryan Dzingel -- Pierre-Luc Dubois -- Josh Anderson

Boone Jenner -- Alexander Wennberg -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Nick Foligno -- Brandon Dubinsky -- Riley Nash

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Markus Nutivaara -- David Savard

Scott Harrington -- Dean Kukan

Joonas Korpisalo

Sergei Bobrovsky

Scratched: Keith Kinkaid, Eric Robinson, Lukas Sedlak, Markus Hannikainen, Adam Clendening

Injured: Adam McQuaid (upper body), Ryan Murray (upper body)


Sabres projected lineup

Victor Olofsson -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart

Jeff Skinner -- Casey Mittelstadt -- Jason Pominville

Conor Sheary -- Johan Larsson -- Alexander Nylander

Scott Wilson -- Zemgus Girgensons -- Kyle Okposo

Rasmus Dahlin -- William Borgen 

Lawrence Pilut -- Brandon Montour

Marco Scandella -- Casey Nelson

Linus Ullmark

Carter Hutton

Scratched: None

Injured: Evan Rodrigues (upper body), Vladimir Sobotka (upper body), Zach Bogosian (lower body), Rasmus Ristolainen (illness), Jake McCabe (upper body), Matt Hunwick (upper body)


Status report

Neither team held a morning skate.


Stat pack

Bjorkstrand has five goals in a four-game goal-scoring streak. … Atkinson, with 41 goals, needs one to set a single-season Blue Jackets record. … Jenner's next assist will be his 200th in the NHL. … Skinner has one goal in his past 21 games and is two assists away from 200 in the NHL. … Okposo is one assist shy of 300.

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