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Islanders at Sabres preview

Buffalo, without McCabe, tries to end four-game losing streak; New York aiming to play tighter defense

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

ISLANDERS (26-22-6) at SABRES (14-29-10)

7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, MSG-B, MSG+ 2, NHL.TV 


The Game

The Buffalo Sabres will try to end a four-game losing streak without defenseman Jake McCabe when they host the New York Islanders at KeyBank Center on Thursday.

McCabe will miss 3-4 weeks for the Sabres after having thumb surgery Wednesday. He was injured the first period of a 4-3 overtime loss against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. 

Buffalo is 0-3-1 in its past four games and 4-9-1 in its past 14.

The Islanders are 1-2-1 in their past five games and 3-4-2 in their past nine. New York has allowed four of more goals in 12 of its past 17 games.


Players to watch

Islanders center Mathew Barzal has 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in his past 12 games. 

Sabres forward Kyle Okposo has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in his past 11 games.


They said it

"When pucks are hitting your goalie in the stomach from the point, physics says you're not in the shot lane. It's just unacceptable and if I have to be the bad guy saying it, that's my job. They have to get into shot lanes. It's a big boy world; it's a tough thing to do. … we have to sprint out at them, we have to pick up sticks in front of the net, and pillage and get into people. And if we're not going to do it, we're going to be a soft team." -- Islanders coach Doug Weight on New York allowing 225 shots on goal in its past five games

"He knows, he understands he hasn't played well since the all-star break. He puts enough pressure on himself. I have no problem with the way he's been competing down low and battling. I think just the execution on passes, getting shots to the net, has to be better." -- Sabres coach Phil Housley on defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen


Islanders projected lineup

Anthony Beauvillier -- John Tavares -- Josh Bailey

Anders Lee -- Mathew Barzal -- Jordan Eberle

Andrew Ladd -- Brock Nelson -- Cal Clutterbuck

Casey Cizikas -- Ross Johnston -- Jason Chimera

Nick Leddy -- Sebastian Aho

Ryan Pulock -- Adam Pelech

Thomas Hickey -- Dennis Seidenberg

Jaroslav Halak

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Alan Quine

Injured: Tanner Fritz (upper body), Scott Mayfield (lower body), Johnny Boychuk (lower body), Shane Prince (lower body), Calvin de Haan (upper body), Nikolay Kulemin (upper body) 


Sabres projected lineup

Evan Rodrigues -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart

Evander Kane -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Kyle Okposo

Zemgus Girgensons -- Johan Larsson -- Jason Pominville

Benoit Pouliot -- Jacob Josefson -- Jordan Nolan

Marco Scandella -- Casey Nelson

Nathan Beaulieu -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Josh Gorges -- Victor Antipin

Robin Lehner

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Justin Falk, Scott Wilson

Injured: Jake McCabe (thumb), Zach Bogosian (hip)


Status update

Larsson returns after serving a two-game suspension for cross-checking Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck on Feb. 2.


Stat pack

Pulock has nine points (two goals, seven assists) his past seven games. … Reinhart has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past six games.

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