Buffalo Sabres (5-13-4) vs. Edmonton Oilers (8-12-2)
Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. EST | Key Bank Center | Buffalo, NY
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Oilers blog: Copper and Blue
What to Watch
1. Nelson down, Ristolainen back
Rasmus Ristolainen is back in the lineup for the Sabres tonight, and he'll hopefully provide some much-needed respite for the struggling team. Ristolainen has missed the last nine games with an upper-body injury. He'll likely be paired with Marco Scandella in tonight's game.
He's certainly been missed; this season, Ristolainen has averaged 27:09 ice time per night and has added five assists in 13 games.
In a corresponding move, the Sabres assigned Casey Nelson to the AHL's Rochester Americans.
2. Seven in a row. Let’s not make it eight.
Does anyone remember what a win feels like? It's been... well, a while. The Sabres haven't won since November 7, a span of just over two weeks and seven games. Tonight, they'll look to snap that seven-game winless streak, but it won't be easy.
This is their longest winless streak of this young season so far. The last time the Sabres had this long a winless streak was February 28 - March 14, 2015. They snapped that streak at seven games with a 2-1 shootout win over the Boston Bruins on March 17.
3. Kane, Okposo Hot Streaks
Evander Kane averaged a point-per-game in October and is nearing that mark in the month of November. He's got nine points in 10 games so far this month and will look to extend that tonight against the Oilers. Kane's 12 goals are tied for fifth in the NHL. His three shorthanded goals lead the league; he's also tied for first in the league in shorthanded points.
Meanwhile, Kyle Okposo has found success against the Oilers, with ten points (6-4) in 10 career games against Edmonton. Tonight’s game is the first of two meetings between the teams this season, so we’ll see what Okposo can do against the Edmonton team tonight.
Know Your Opponent
1. The Young Guns
Aside from the obvious McDavid, who we'll talk about in a minute, the Oilers have some other young guns who are producing this season. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl each have 17 points, and Drake Caggiula has registered six points (4-2) in 14 games.
2. The McDavid Factor... Or Not?
The Oilers just ended their own three-game losing streak with a 6-2 win over the Red Wings on Wednesday. But overall, the Oilers are in much of the same boat as the Sabres: living in struggle city.
Edmonton is 8-12-2 on the season, and McDavid isn't having a bad season, with 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points in 22 games. Yet regardless of his individual success, many in Edmonton seem to be heaping on McDavid as the problem regarding the Oilers' struggles.
McDavid, meanwhile, recently lost between 5 and 10 pounds due to an illness, and is still managing to find points on the ice. The Sabres will have to watch him closely tonight, or the game could get quickly out of control.
3. Watch Out For Strome
Another player for the Sabres to watch tonight: Ryan Strome, who is fairly new to the Oilers' roster. Strome has 10 points (3-7) in 22 games this season with Edmonton. He's got three power-play points and has put up 37 shots on net while also finding some success in the faceoff dot. He'll be another player the Sabres want to keep an eye on in tonight's tilt.
9 Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 29 Jason Pominville
67 Benoit Pouliot - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 23 Sam Reinhart
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 22 Johan Larsson - 51 Kyle Criscuolo
17 Jordan Nolan - 10 Jacob Josefson - 21 Kyle Okposo
6 Marco Scandella - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
19 Jake McCabe - 93 Victor Antipin
82 Nathan Beaulieu - 41 Justin Falk
44 Zach Bogosian - 4 Josh Gorges
Starting Goaltender: 40 Robin Lehner