WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets will attempt to avoid duplicating a hard-learned lesson when they meet the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday at MTS Centre.
The Sabres dealt the Jets a 4-2 defeat two weeks ago in Buffalo. The loss extended a pattern for the Jets of losing to teams placed well below them in the overall League standings.
However, that game in Buffalo sparked a surge for the Sabres (11-24-4), who have gone 3-1-1 since the win against the Jets and have defeated the Boston Bruins, Phoenix Coyotes and Washington Capitals.
The trip into Winnipeg begins a two-game road trip for the Sabres, who conducted an optional morning skate at MTS Centre, but they intend to duplicate the composed, structured game that they played against the Jets earlier this month.
"We obviously have to play a controlled game, with the speed that they can bring," Sabres captain Steve Ott said.
The Jets (18-18-5) have won two games in a row for the first time since Nov. 25-27, but a well-played 2-1 overtime road win against the Colorado Avalanche has not generated much self-congratulation within the Jets' dressing room.
"I think they recognize, as I do, that two games does not make a season," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "We've got a long ways to go, and we know that consistency is one of the things that we're trying to get to, and in order to do that, you've got to build it."
Forward Ville Leino's status for the game Tuesday remains to be determined after Capitals right wing Tom Wilson delivered a hard hit to him in the Sabres' 2-1 win Sunday. If Leino is not available, dressing Alexander Sulzer as a seventh defenseman would be coach Ted Nolan's only option.
Center Cody Hodgson has missed four consecutive games with a wrist injury. Forwards Cody McCormick (upper body) and Kevin Porter (lower body) are both on injured reserve.
Noel does not expect to alter his lineup against the Sabres.
Jhonas Enroth is expected to start and provide a night off for Ryan Miller, who has started five of the team's past six games. Al Montoya, who took over for Ondrej Pavelec this past Friday in a home win against the Minnesota Wild and has won his past five decisions, will start for the Jets for the second consecutive game as Pavelec struggles to regain his form from earlier in the season.
Here are the probable lineups for the Sabres and Jets:
Matt Moulson – Tyler Ennis – Zemgus Girgensons
Steve Ott – Brian Flynn – Drew Stafford
Marcus Foligno – Ville Leino – Linus Omark
John Scott – Matt Ellis – Matt D'Agostini
Tyler Myers – Henrik Tallinder
Christian Ehrhoff – Mark Pysyk
Jamie McBain – Mike Weber
Scratched: Alexander Sulzer
Injured: Cody Hodgson (wrist), Cody McCormick (upper body), Kevin Porter (lower body)
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Mark Scheifele - Michael Frolik
Chris Thorburn - Olli Jokinen - Devin Setoguchi
Eric Tangradi - James Wright – Anthony Peluso
Tobias Enstrom - Jacob Trouba
Dustin Byfuglien - Keaton Ellerby
Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian
Scratched: Adam Pardy, Eric O'Dell
Injured: Grant Clitsome (back), Matt Halischuk (forearm), Paul Postma (blood clot), Jim Slater (sports hernia)