A season-opening eight-game point streak must seem like a long time ago to the Buffalo Sabres. A visit from the banged-up New York Islanders could be just what they need to rekindle those memories.
The Sabres hope to end a season-high four-game skid while extending a three-game win streak against the Islanders on Saturday night.
Since beginning the season with four straight wins as part of a 6-0-2 start, Buffalo (9-7-3) has gone 1-5-1 and been outscored 21-7 during their current slide.
Although they failed to avoid another loss, the Sabres registered a season-high 40 shots against Martin Biron on Friday, but the former Sabre was perfect in leading visiting Philadelphia to a 3-0 victory.
"We did a great job of making their goaltender look good," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.
In an effort to shake up his struggling team, Ruff benched defenseman Henrik Tallinder and forward Maxim Afinogenov, who has one goal in 18 games, but the moves didn't pay off as Buffalo was blanked at home for the first time since Nov. 9, 2007.
"When you haven't been going good you don't get the breaks," Ruff said. "We haven't been going good."
Right wing Mark Mancari, the second-leading scorer in the AHL, was recalled from Portland and inserted into the lineup, while defenseman Nathan Paetsch played for just the fifth time.
Goaltender Ryan Miller hasn't been sharp lately for Buffalo, allowing 13 goals during a personal three-game losing streak. He was 7-1-1 with a 1.62 goals-against average in his first nine starts this season.
Buffalo, which hasn't lost five straight in regulation since March 18-25, 2006, has outscored the Islanders 14-5 during three straight wins. The Sabres also have won five of the last six meetings at HSBC Arena, scoring 26 goals in those victories.
New York (7-10-2) had its season-best three-game win streak snapped with Friday's 5-2 loss at New Jersey as Joey MacDonald stopped 28 shots.
"Every time we battled back, they came back down. The third goal was a shot off our defense and into the net," MacDonald told the Islanders' official Web site. "It was one of those nights where the puck was bouncing."
Andy Hilbert and Sean Bergenheim scored for the Islanders, who are in a stretch of three games in four nights without several injured regulars. The latest player added to their injury list is center Frans Nielsen, who had to helped from the ice early in the third period after being laid out by an elbow from Devils defenseman Mike Mottau.
The Islanders are already missing goaltender Rick DiPietro (knee), right wing Kyle Okposo (arm), centers Mike Comrie (hip) and Nate Thompson (groin) and defenseman Freddy Meyer (hernia).
MacDonald is likely to make his 10th straight start on Saturday, though he had his worst game of the season in a 7-1 home loss to the Sabres on Oct. 13. Coach Scott Gordon's only other option is to start Peter Mannino in his NHL debut.
Buffalo's Jason Pominville has two goals and 11 assists in his last nine games against the Islanders.