NEWARK, N.J. – Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel were back on the ice for the Buffalo Sabres' morning skate on Tuesday after taking maintenance days on Monday. Captain Brian Gionta did not skate due to an illness he's been battling the past few days, but all three could very well be in the lineup Tuesday night when the Sabres take on the Devils at Prudential Center.
In case one of them can't play, Buffalo recalled wing Justin Bailey from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.
Sabres coach Dan Bylsma declared the lineup a game-time decision and said that Bailey will only be in the lineup to replace an injured player.
Bailey has appeared in eight games with the team during his first two recalls in February. He has compiled 17 points (9+8) in 15 AHL games since returning to Rochester on March 1.
He's put together a solid first professional season and said his experience with the Sabres has helped him play with more confidence in Rochester. Bailey has recorded more goals (19) and assists (24) for the Amerks than any other Rochester skater. His 43 points in 64 AHL games this season rank him 10th among all AHL rookies.
A Buffalo native, Bailey was selected by the Sabres in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft before finishing his OHL career with 148 points (76+72) in 168 games with the Kitchener Rangers and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, so wearing the Sabres crest always has some extra meaning.
"Any time you get an opportunity to come up here and whether it's play or just chip in, I think it's important for me to come out here and show what I have," Bailey said.
"Coming into the season, the dream was definitely there to be called up. It's been a reality, two or three times now. Every time, it's more special and I'm just appreciative and happy for it."
New Jersey holds a 2-0-0 record against the Sabres this season with both of their wins coming at First Niagara Center.
Bylsma looks back at those games and mostly remembers how hard the Devils played. The two teams last met back on Dec. 15 where the Devils won 2-0.
"This is a team that really out-worked and out-competed us and that's not to take away from how we worked and competed in those games. That's the strength of their team and what they have done to be successful this year, it's the work and compete level of their team," he said.
The Sabres have not beaten the Devils in six-straight games and to avoid that streak extending any long, Buffalo will look to play a north-south game and use their speed to their advantage.
"They're well coached, they're hard working. They don't give you much and you have to really create your opportunities here," O'Reilly said. "For us, I think the key is just getting a good start and getting ourselves [engaged] physically with these guys and showing them we're going to compete."
Chad Johnson will make his ninth-straight start in goal for Buffalo. In his last 13 appearances, he's 9-2-1 with a .923 save percentage and a 2.30 goals-against average.
He'll face Cory Schneider in goal for the Devils. Patrik Elias will also be back in the lineup for New Jersey after recovering from knee surgery. He hasn't played since Dec. 19. Elias is the franchise's all-time leader with 407 goals, 615 assists and 1,022 points.
Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on MSG-B and Bell TV. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
Be sure to stay tuned during the first intermission for the final Beyond Blue & Gold episode of the season.