The Winnipeg Jets are in town Wednesday night for a 7 p.m. faceoff against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center.
The Sabres enter the game on their first three-game winning streak of the season and their first since Feb. 25 to 28 of last season. During the current streak, they’ve averaged four goals per game and have only given up four goals total.
Defenseman Mike Weber, who enters the game on a three-game point streak (0+3), said that it’s been a while since the team has felt as confident as they do right now.
“When you play the game the right way, you get rewarded. It doesn’t matter who you have in the locker room, what type of players you have – you can have a group of All-Stars or a group of grinders,” he said.
“You play the game the right way and respect the game in the aspect of you’ve got to get pucks deep, you’ve got to get pucks to the net, you’ve got to get to the dirty areas to score goals, and it’s a five-man effort in the D-zone, things start going well for you and they have in the little bit here.”
Jhonas Enroth will start in goal for Buffalo after a 43-save performance on Saturday against Washington. In his career against Winnipeg, he has a .943 save percentage and a 2.01 goals against average, yet his record is just 0-2-1. Enroth has stopped 62 of his past 64 shots faced.
As a team, the Sabres haven’t had much recent success against the Jets, going 3-6-1 in their past 10 games. They’ll look to win consecutive home games against Winnipeg for the first time since they won four in a row at home against the Thrashers/Jets franchise from Jan. 1, 2010 to Nov. 8, 2011.
HOME SWEET HOME
After sitting out the past three games as a healthy scratch, Patrick Kaleta is set to play in his first home game since Oct. 10, 2013. The Angola, N.Y. native’s recent history of suspensions, injuries and battles with Mother Nature have been well documented and he’s excited to get back out there with his teammates.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to hear my name being called by RJ [Sabres play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret], so I’m definitely looking forward to that,” he said. “Just to play at home for me is special for obvious reasons.
“It means a lot to me just to be able to play a game for Buffalo and in Buffalo. We could sit here and talk about that for an hour but you guys have no idea how much it means to me just to put on the jersey.”
CYCLING THROUGH CENTERS
Kaleta may see some time at center with Cody McCormick, who is being evaluated for a concussion, out of the lineup.
His linemate Marcus Foligno might play a little in the middle as well, but Sabres coach Ted Nolan is taking an all-hands-on-deck approach and will be prepared to call on all of the team’s centers to fill the role when needed.
“We’ll use [Kaleta] as a safety valve in the center ice position,” Nolan said. “We’ll see how it goes and maybe we’ll double shift [Zemgus] Girgensons a few shifts, [Cody] Hodgson a few shifts and maybe even put [Tyler] Ennis in the middle. So you never know how it goes.”
McCormick and alternate captain Josh Gorges, who is out with a lower-body injury, took part in the team’s optional morning skate.
26 Matt Moulson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
65 Brian Flynn – 17 Torrey Mitchell – 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 19 Cody Hodgson – 21 Drew Stafford
82 Marcus Foligno – 36 Patrick Kaleta – 80 Chris Stewart
24 Tyson Strachan – 57 Tyler Myers
51 Nikita Zadorov – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 41 Andrej Meszaros
1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth
Scratched: 8 Cody McCormick (injured, concussion protocol), 61 Andre Benoit (healthy)
Injured Reserve: 4 Josh Gorges (lower body), 31 Matt Hackett (lower body)