COLUMBUS - The Buffalo Sabres were shorthanded for most of their game Sunday night against the Nashville Predators because of penalties. They might be shorthanded up front on Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets because of an illness to Nicolas Deslauriers.
Deslauriers is unlikely to play as Sabres coach Ted Nolan said he’s feeling under the weather. Deslauriers came to the rink but did not skate and went back to the hotel to catch some rest. They’ll wait to see how he feels closer to game time, but there’s a good chance the team will play seven defensemen.
The Tops Game Night pregame show begins at 6:30 p.m. on MSG-B and Bell with faceoff from Nationwide Arena scheduled for 7 p.m. The game can also be heard on WGR 550.
Michal Neuvirth is slated to start once again in goal.
Buffalo killed seven of eight power plays including late in the overtime period Sunday night against the Predators. While they would like to stay out of the box as much as possible, the job the penalty-killing units has done over the past few games has been a point of pride.
Over the past five games, Buffalo has killed 18 of 21 penalties (85.7 percent).
Technically, forward Brian Flynn thinks they’ve made a few adjustments that have really seemed to help.
“I think we were just a little bit tighter as four guys in our zone, not as spread out so they can hit those seams and backdoor plays as much,” he said. “If they want to try to rip pucks from points, forwards and Ds’ job is to just to try and block shots and not let any of those backdoor plays happen because Neuvy’s been playing really well for us.”
Neuvirth made 175 saves in the five games since Buffalo traded goaltender Jhonas Enroth to the Dallas Stars. Neuvirth has a .951 save percentage and a 1.73 goals-against average of that span.
He’s been a huge part of their penalty kill as well.
“Obviously Neuvirth has made some amazing saves too, so that always helps,” forward Marcus Foligno said. “Your goalie has to be your best penalty killer for sure, but you need good timely blocks. I think we’ve gotten some good blocks in front of him.”
80 Chris Stewart – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
26 Matt Moulson – 17 Torrey Mitchell – 12 Brian Gionta
82 Marcus Foligno – 65 Brian Flynn
22 Johan Larsson – 37 Matt Ellis – 19 Cody Hodgson
61 Andre Benoit – 47 Zach Bogosian
51 Nikita Zadorov – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
41 Andrej Meszaros – 3 Mark Pysyk
29 Jake McCabe
34 Michal Neuvirth
35 Anders Lindback
Scratched: 6 Mike Weber (upper body), 24 Tyson Strachan (infection), 44 Nicolas Deslauriers (illness)
Injured Reserve: 4 Josh Gorges (lower body), 8 Cody McCormick (blood clots), 9 Evander Kane (shoulder), 36 Patrick Kaleta (lower body)