The Buffalo Sabres will look to make up some ground in the Eastern Conference and improve their win streak to three games as they host the New Jersey Devils Saturday afternoon. The Sabres return to the First Niagara Center after a successful road trip to the Sunshine State this past week, picking up wins against the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 and the Florida Panthers 4-3.
Even with the recent victories the Sabres still find themselves with a huge mountain to climb in the conference. Coming into the game against the Devils, the Sabres find themselves 12 points behind the first place Montreal Canadiens. Picking up four points this week did move Buffalo out of the basement and into a tie with the Florida Panthers with 17 points, 4 behind eighth place Winnepeg.
With a win, head coach Ron Rolston will move his record above the .500 mark for the first time in his early NHL career. Much of the recent success is due to the new line of Tyler Enis, Nathan Gerbe, and Steve Ott contributing to the scoring (6 points vs. Panthers), the Sabres should become a much more difficult team to play against as well as giving the Pomonville and Stafford lines more scoring opportunities.
After being one of the top teams in the NHL for the first month of the season, the New Jersey Devils have fallen on some hard times as of late. Winners of only 1 game in their last 6 and currently on a 3 game losing streak, the Devils and head coach Peter Deboer will attempt to get in the win column and improve their 7th place standing in the Eastern Conference.
Much like the Sabres, New Jersey has seen much of their offense condensed into only a few individuals. Patrick Elias (22 pts.), Ilya Kovalchuk (17 pts.), and David Clarkson (17 pts.) have led the Devils throughout the season and for Buffalo to come away with a victory all three must be held in check.
Saturday’s contest is the first of three meetings between the clubs this year. They will see each other again on Tuesday evening at the Prudential Center in New Jersey. Last season the Devils had the edge in the four games played, winning three. The game is scheduled for 3:00 and can be seen on MSG.