Skip to Main Content

Sabres try to end road slide in Winnipeg

by John Kreiser
SABRES (19-22-5) at JETS (21-20-5)


LAST 10: Buffalo 2-6-2; Winnipeg 4-6-0

Season Series: The teams are meeting for the third time this season, with the Sabres paying their first visit ever to the MTS Centre. Both teams won an overtime game in Buffalo, with the Jets winning 2-1 on Johnny Oduya's OT goal 12 days ago.

Big Story: Two teams headed in the wrong direction will try to do an about-face when the Jets host the Sabres for the first time this season. Buffalo has dropped the first three games in a seven-game trip, extending its road losing streak to 10 games. After a solid December, most of which was spent at home, the Jets have lost six of eight games this month to fall five points out of the last playoff spot in the East - though they are four points ahead of the reeling Sabres.

Team Scope:

Sabres: Buffalo's marathon trip passes the halfway point in Winnipeg, but the road continues to be an inhospitable place for the Sabres, whose playoff hopes are growing dimmer by the day. Jason Pominville had a pair of goals Wednesday night in Chicago, but little else went right in a 6-2 loss to the surging Hawks.

"We're not dealing well with adversity," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said after the Hawks scored the last four goals to blow open a game that was 2-2 early in the second period. "Until we learn to win again, you won't win on the road.

"We've got some players that are way away from their game, and we've got some guys that I thought were good tonight, but we didn't have enough of them."

Jets: After an encouraging 2-0 win at Ottawa on Monday, the Jets were grounded 5-1 in New Jersey the next night, dropping them to 2-6-0 this month and moving them further out of the playoff race in the East.

The loss dropped the Jets to 0-7-0 in the second game of back-to-backs, leaving coach Claude Noel puzzled.

"If I could have fixed it before, I would have fixed it before," he said of his team's struggles when playing on consecutive nights. "That hasn't happened yet. I just haven't been able to find the right button for back-to-backs."

Who's Hot: Pominville, Buffalo's captain, has three goals in the Sabres' last four games. … Winnipeg defenseman Tobias Enstrom has goals in each of the Jets' last two games.

Injury Report: Buffalo has been plagued by injuries all season, and the Sabres are still without several key pieces. Among them are defensemen Robyn Regehr (lower body) and Christian Ehrhoff (upper body) and key forward Tyler Ennis (ankle). Center Paul Gaustad left Wednesday's game with an upper-body injury and didn't return. … The Jets have been without top scorer Blake Wheeler since Saturday, when he was hit in the throat by a puck, and are also without top-four defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian, both of whom have lower-body injuries.

Stat Pack: Since the start of the 2006-07 season, 13 of the last 20 games between the franchises have gone past regulation. The Jets' franchise, based in Atlanta until this season, won eight of the 13. … Both teams have scored seven goals in the season series, and the breakdown has been the same: Three goals in the first period, two in the second, one in the third and one in OT.

Puck Drop: The Sabres gave Ville Leino a six-year contract last summer after his pivotal goal for Philadelphia in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series last spring, but are still waiting for a return on their investment. Leino has just three goals - only one in his last 20 games - and his turnover led to Marian Hossa's go-ahead breakaway goal on Wednesday.

"It's been like that. You get the responsibility with contracts like that and you just have to carry it," Leino told the Buffalo News. "There's no time to hang your heads and feel sorry for yourself. It's been tough. I'm not into shock or anything, but obviously I want to play better."

View More