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Sabres at Panthers Preview: Buffalo Goes for Three in a Row

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The Sabres can get to .500 for the first time in a long time with a win tonight against the Panthers.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Game #16

Buffalo Sabres (7-8-0) at
Florida Panthers (6-6-3)

Puck Drop: 7:30 pm EST | BB&T Center | Sunrise, FL
TV: MSG-B, BELL TV, FS-F | Radio: ESPN 1520 AM
SB Nation Panthers Blog: Litter Box Cats

The Buffalo Sabres, winners of two straight, four of their last five and five of their past seven games, seek to stay hot and sweep their two-game Florida trip tonight against the Florida Panthers. The two teams have met once previously this season—a 3-2 win for the Panthers in Sunrise, Fla., back on Oct. 15.

Head coach Dan Bylsma called off today's morning skate and gave the team a beach day, so we should get some updates on things like who tonight's starting goalie (Update: It will be Ullmark) will be around 5 p.m. One thing we do know is that the Sabres will be without the services of defenseman Mike Weber, who was sent back to Buffalo for further examination on his lower body injury.

Three Questions

1. Can the Sabres reach the .500 mark?

It has been awhile since Buffalo has been a .500 team (930 days and counting or over two and a half years, to be exact). The last time the Sabres were .500 or better was on the final day of the 2012-13 season when they beat the New York Islanders, 2-1 in a shootout, to finish with a 21-21-6 record. They have a chance to do that, and secure their first three-game win streak since last December, with a win over the Panthers tonight.

2. Will Buffalo slow down Jaromir Jagr?

As he has been known to do throughout his career against the Sabres, the 43-year-old ageless wonder piled on the points the first time these two teams met. Jagr was involved in all three Panthers' goals, scoring twice in the first period and providing the primary assist on the eventual game-winner in the third. Jagr leads Florida with seven goals and 12 points this season and scored the game-winning goal in its 4-3 win over Calgary on Tuesday.

3. For that matter, can Florida slow down Jack Eichel?

Buffalo's superstar rookie has been on fire as of late, with back-to-back multi-point efforts. He has points in three straight and four of his last five games, totaling three goals and six points in that span. He scored his first road goal in the Sabres' last outing versus Tampa Bay and after tallying zero assists in his first 13 career games, Eichel has three in his past two. To put it another way...

It's probably not a  coincidence that as Eichel has gotten hot, a big stretch of wins has followed.

Projected BUF lines

Larsson - Girgensons - Reinhart
Moulson - O'Reilly - Gionta
McGinn - Eichel - Ennis
Deslauriers - Legwand - Foligno

Gorges - Ristolainen
McCabe - Franson
Colaiacovo - Pysyk

Goal: Linus Ullmark

Projected FLA lines

Huberdeau - Bjugstad - Jagr
Jokinen - Trochek - Smith
Pirri - Bolland - Grimaldi
Wilson - MacKenzie - Howden

Campbell - Ekblad
Kulikov - Petrovic
Gudbranson - Mitchell

Goal: Roberto Luongo