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game preview

Blue Jackets at Sabres preview

Columbus goes for seventh straight win; Buffalo seeks first victory in four games

by Heather Engel / Independent Correspondent

BLUE JACKETS (27-16-8) at SABRES (22-22-7)

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


The Game

The Columbus Blue Jackets will try to extend their season-long winning streak to seven games when they play the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Saturday.

The Blue Jackets, who are playing their first game following their League-mandated break, have outscored opponents 20-6 and recorded three shutouts during the streak. They are 16-2-4 in their past 22 games

The Sabres have lost three straight after winning three in a row. They are 5-8-0 in their past 13 games.

Players to watch

Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand has scored two goals in each of his past three games and has nine goals in his past six games.

Sabres center Jack Eichel has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his past 11 games.


They said it

"Now is the time where you see teams take a step up [in the standings] and take a step down, and you want to be that team that steps up. We were playing really well before the break, but now is the most important part of the season." -- Blue Jackets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois

"We've been through these times where we take a couple of hits at this time of the year, when it seems like it's critical games, we take a couple of hits and then all of a sudden the wheels fall off. That's not happening here. I think that's probably the biggest message that has been sent to the locker room. You're going to take punches, it's a tough league. Every team's competitive every night. You've just got to start finding ways to win hockey games. That's honestly what it all comes down to." -- Sabres captain Jack Eichel 


Blue Jackets projected lineup

Nick Foligno -- Pierre-Luc Dubois -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Gustav Nyquist -- Alexander Wennberg -- Cam Atkinson

Nathan Gerbe -- Boone Jenner -- Emil Bemstrom

Jakob Lilja -- Riley Nash -- Eric Robinson

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Vladislav Gavrikov -- David Savard

Scott Harrington -- Markus Nutivaara

Elvis Merzlikins

Matiss Kivlenieks

Scratched: Sonny Milano

Injured: Brandon Dubinsky (wrist), Josh Anderson (shoulder), Ryan Murray (lower body), Joonas Korpisalo (knee), Alexandre Texier (back), Dean Kukan (knee)


Sabres projected lineup

Jimmy Vesey -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart 

Jeff Skinner -- Marcus Johansson -- Michael Frolik

Zemgus Girgensons -- Johan Larsson -- Conor Sheary

Evan Rodrigues -- Curtis Lazar 

Lawrence Pilut -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Rasmus Dahlin -- Brandon Montour

Jake McCabe -- Henri Jokiharju

Colin Miller 

Carter Hutton

Jonas Johansson

Scratched:  Jean-Sebastien Dea

Injured: Kyle Okposo (upper body), Zach Bogosian (illness), Linus Ullmark (lower body), Victor Olofsson (lower body), Tage Thompson (upper body), Vladimir Sobotka (lower body)


Status report

Okposo was being evaluated Friday and will not play against Columbus. … Montour is expected to play after missing practice Friday due to a maintenance day. … Forward Josh Anderson practiced with the Blue Jackets on Friday but is not expected to face the Sabres.


Stat pack

Atkinson is two goals from 200 in the NHL. … Wennberg is one point away from 200. … Reinhart has 12 points (six goals, six assists) in his past 12 games.

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