ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA - Justin Bailey created quite a few scoring chances without actually scoring his first career goal in eight games for the Sabres last season. If he's going to net that illustrious first goal against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night, he'll have to do it against a goalie who hasn't gotten beat in three games.
Bailey was recalled for the first time this season on Tuesday morning to replace an injured Hudson Fasching in the Buffalo lineup. The Sabres have won back-to-back games since being shut out by Devan Dubnyk and the Wild last Thursday, the middle contest in Dubnyk's current three-game shutout streak.
The plan to beat Dubnyk, Bailey said, is to play within his strengths by using his size and speed to bring the puck to the net.
"Anytime you can get in the goalie's eyes and disrupt a bit, bring pucks in the net, put pucks at the goalie's feet, there's no goalie that would say they enjoy that," Bailey said after an optional morning skate at Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday morning.
Video: Preview: BUF at MIN (11/1/16)
Bailey, a right-handed shot, has been playing on the left wing in Rochester this season in case the Sabres might need him there in the event of an injury as they do now. Bailey said the switch to his off side has been positive in that it's forced him to use his size to ward off defenders and get to the net in the offensive zone.
Bailey has four points (3+1) through seven games in Rochester this season.
As important as it is for the Sabres to drive to the net, coach Dan Bylsma indicated that another key to scoring against Dubnyk is seeing an increase in shots from the point. Bylsma has advocated for more shots from his defensemen on a few occasions in recent weeks, and said the long shots could help dispel the tight Minnesota defense that kept Buffalo off the board in the last meeting between the two teams.
"I think sometimes we try to get a little too cute and that hurts us," Sabres defenseman Cody Franson said. "We try to make the designed plays that we're trying to do or try to make that highlight-reel play, a play that we see in the film or we draw it up and we try to roll to the right spots. We have to execute a couple of plays to be able to make it work when really sometimes just putting the puck to the net and going there, trying to create something off of rebounds is sometimes the better option."
Robin Lehner will oppose Dubnyk in net for the Sabres. Lehner allowed one goal on 38 shots in Buffalo's win over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday, his first start back after missing three-straight games with the flu.
The Wild will be without forwards Zach Parise and Zac Dalpe and defenseman Marco Scandella, all of whom played against the Sabres last Thursday but have since been lost to injury.
Coverage on Tuesday begins at 7:30 p.m. with Tops Sabres Gamenight on MSG-B. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550, with puck drop set for 8 p.m.