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Sabres Head to Long Island to Kick Off Two Game Road Trip

Buffalo Hopes to Snap Latest Losing Streak

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New York Islanders v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Game 32

Buffalo Sabres (10-16-5) vs. New York Islanders (8-12-6)

Puck Drop: 7:30PM ET | UBS Arena | Elmont, NY

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation New York Islanders Blog: Lighthouse Hockey

Know Your Opponent

New York Islanders

Record: (8-12-6)

Last Game: 4-3 Loss to Vegas (SO)

Division Ranking: 8th in the Metropolitan Division

PP: 24th (16.9%)

PK: 23rd (82.4%)

What to Watch

1. Who Will Clear COVID Protocols to Play (or Coach) Against the Islanders?

The Buffalo Sabres are reeling from enduring so many players and coach Don Granato out when they entered COVID protocols. The bad news came a day after Christmas, when Granato, Dylan Cozens and Mark Jankowski joined Zemgus Girgensons, Jeff Skinner and Vinnie Hinostroza as COVID positives.

The good news is, the three most recent Sabres personnel to enter the protocols were asymptomatic. COVID devastated Buffalo last season, after the Sabres played the New Jersey Devils in back-to-back games and the virus went through the team with a vengeance. With the team 100% vaccinated, let’s hope the latest illness wave isn’t as catastrophic as the previous one.

2. Can the Sabres Get Back to Playing Their Game, Instead of Defending Against Someone Else’s?

During Buffalo’s latest loss against the New Jersey Devils, their opponents outshot them 42-22 and beat them 4-3. The previous game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on 12/17, also a loss, the Pens outshot the Sabres 48-21. Buffalo has let their opponents dictate the game in recent matchups, allowing them to play most of their ice time in the Sabres’ zone, and not doing enough to clear the puck, control play or generate enough offensive chances.

When the Sabres have behaved aggressively in past games this season, wins have followed. Buffalo needs to get back to doing what works, which is taking the fight to their opponents, instead of the other way around.

3. Bookies Split on Betting Odds

The oddsmakers at Picks and Parlays predict the Sabres will win this contest 3-2. Buffalo is playing back-to-back games which is a disadvantage, however the Islanders are not a good team and haven’t played competitive hockey in a long time. By contrast, Jonny Lazarus at Action Network gives the Islanders the edge. Lazarus believes their long break means New York will be rested and ready to go, and he also assumes there’s a mismatch in goal with Sorokin taking on Subban. The Morning Puck has UPL projected in net, so we’ll see who shows up in goal tonight.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Alex Tuch – Tage Thompson – JJ Peterka

Brett Murray – Peyton Krebs – Kyle Okposo

Victor Olofsson – Arttu Ruotsalainen – Rasmus Asplund

Anders Bjork – Cody Eakin – John Hayden

Defense

Henri Jokiharju – Rasmus Dahlin

Mark Pysyk – Casey Fitzgerald

Ethan Prow – Will Butcher

Starting Goalie: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

New York Islanders

Forwards

Anthony Beauvillier - Brock Nelson - Josh Bailey

Anders Lee - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Oliver Wahlstrom

Ross Johnston - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Zach Parise - Austin Czarnik - Kieffer Bellows

Defense

Scott Mayfield - Adam Pelech

Noah Dobson - Zdeno Chara

Andy Greene - Sebastian Aho

Starting Goalie: Ilya Sorokin