JETS (5-7-2) at SABRES (8-5-0)
TV: TSN-JETS, MSG-B
Winnipeg 4-4-2; Buffalo 6-4-0
First of four meetings and the initial matchup between the Sabres and the new Jets. Last season, the Sabres won three of four against the franchise's predecessor, the Thrashers, with 13 different players netting at least one goal. Tyler Ennis
led the way with 3 goals and Ryan Miller
was in net for each game.
When the announcement was made that Winnipeg would regain a franchise for the 2011-12 season, fans in Manitoba could hardly wait to see the Jets in action. Early on, though, they've been watching the team mostly on television. Entering Tuesday, the Jets and Blues had played an NHL-low four home games to this point -- St. Louis hosts Chicago, so Winnipeg will hold that distinction by itself at the end of the night. The good news is this stop marks the end on a seven-game road trip for the Jets, who play four of their next five at the MTS Centre.
Regardless of what happens Tuesday, it's fair to say Winnipeg acquitted itself well on its lengthy trip. The Jets got it started with a wild 9-8 win over the Flyers and are 3-2-1 through the first six games. However, they stumbled a bit over the weekend. After rallying from a two-goal, third-period deficit Saturday only to fall to the Devils in overtime, they were blanked 3-0 on Sunday night by the Rangers. Ondrej Pavelec
dueled Martin Biron to a scoreless stalemate for the first half of the game before allowing a pair of goals on 24 shots. The final goal was into an empty net.
"I thought Pavelec did a heck of a job getting us in the game and keeping us in the game," coach Claude Noel said. "We looked tired. We didn't have much energy. I think our team wore down from back-to-back games."
This continues a stretch during which Buffalo plays seven of eight on home ice. In the one game away from HSBC Arena, the Sabres gutted out a six-round shootout victory over the Senators on Saturday, finally prevailing 3-2 when Derek Roy
got the puck past Craig Anderson. Roy, who was struggling with just 1 goal in 12 games coming in, also scored in regulation along with Jordan Leopold
. Jhonas Enroth
improved to 4-0-0 while starting for the second night in a row.
"It's not an easy decision to make because we need both guys going," coach Lindy Ruff said. "I think Jhonas has stepped in and played well, his numbers are good and just on a hunch I decided to give him back-to-back games."
With backup Chris Mason
sidelined, Pavelec has started every game on the Jets' trip. He stumbled against the Flyers, but has posted a .949 save percentage since. … Enroth has already matched Miller in victories while posting a 1.41 goals-against average and .952 save percentage.
A strained groin has Mason on injured reserve for Winnipeg along with defensemen Tobias Enstrom
(broken collarbone), Ron Hainsey
(upper body) and Derek Meech
(lower body), and forward Eric Fehr
(shoulder). Defenseman Randy Jones
(ankle) and forward Nik Antropov
(hand) are day-to-day. … Ennis has missed the Sabres' last five games with an ankle sprain, while forward Jochen Hecht
is on injured reserve with a concussion.
Antropov has missed the last two games for the Jets and was one of their hottest players when he went down, registering 2 goals and 6 assists over his last half-dozen contests. … The Sabres started the week as the third-best team in 5-on-5 play, averaging 1.37 goals for every goal they allowed. Only the Capitals (1.41) and Oilers (1.38) were better.
Roy averaged 71 points a season from 2006-10 and was a point-per-game player last season before a torn quadriceps sidelined him until Game 7 of Buffalo's first-round series loss to Philadelphia. He's battled some minor ailments and inconsistency early this season and was thrilled to contribute in Saturday's victory over Ottawa.
"It's been coming for a while," Roy said. "I've been missing a lot of chances, some glorious opportunities. But tonight it was great to get a goal for the team and help win the game."