SABRES (19-42-8) at OILERS (25-36-9)
TV: MSG-B, TSN
Last 10: Buffalo 2-8-0; Edmonton 5-3-2
Season series: This is the second and final game between these cross-conference teams. The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 at First Niagara Center on Feb. 3.
Big story: Oilers right wing Sam Gagner needs one goal to reach 100 in his NHL career, as his team tries to catch the Calgary Flames to avoid a last-place finish in the Western Conference. Buffalo is in last place in the Eastern Conference, but is 6-2-0 in its past eight games against the Oilers and hasn't lost in Edmonton since Oct. 16, 2003.
Sabres: The goaltender carousel continues to turn in Buffalo as coach Ted Nolan said Wednesday that Matt Hackett would get the start in Edmonton. Hackett is set to become the fifth goalie to start for the Sabres this season. Nathan Lieuwen made his first NHL start in a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, Ryan Miller was traded to the St. Louis Blues prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, and Jhonas Enroth (lower body) and Michal Neuvirth (lower body) are injured. Nolan confirmed Wednesday that Neuvirth is not set to return until Saturday at the Vancouver Canucks, the third of a five-game road trip for the Sabres.
"It's all about the evaluation period going forward here," Nolan said following practice Wednesday. "Hackett has come in with good credentials from the beginning so we'll put him in and see what he has."
Buffalo will try to avoid an eight-game losing streak Thursday after managing 14 shots at Calgary.
Oilers: Edmonton recalled right wing Tyler Pitlick from the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis Wednesday with right wing Nail Yakupov (ankle) doubtful and center Matt Hendricks (leg) questionable for Thursday. Left wing Jesse Joensuu (high ankle sprain) is likely to miss the remainder of the season. Pitlick had 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) with the Barons and scored a goal in three games with the Oilers this season.
"You're never sure how many chances you're going to get and you have to make the most of the chance when it comes," coach Dallas Eakins said Wednesday. "I hope [Pitlick's] ready for his chance."
The Oilers play the second of a six-game homestand and are 3-1-1 in the past five games at Rexall Place.
Who's hot: Sabres right wing Drew Stafford has five points (four goals, one assist) in the past six games. … Gagner has nine points (two goals, nine assists) in the past eight games for the Oilers.
Injury report: The Sabres are without defensemen Tyler Myers (elbow) and Alexander Sulzer (upper body) and forwards Chris Stewart (ankle) and Zemgus Girgensons (lower body). … In addition to the injuries to Yakupov, Hendricks and Joensuu, Oilers forward Jordan Eberle (knee) and defenseman Anton Belov (partially torn oblique) are out.