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Reverse Retro Returns: Can the Sabres Keep the Momentum Going?

Buffalo faces red hot Devils for the first time this season

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Buffalo Sabres v New Jersey Devils Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Game 21

Buffalo Sabres (9-11-0) vs. New Jersey Devils (16-4-0)

Puck Drop: 8:00 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY

TV: MSG-B

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Devils Blog: All About the Jersey

Know Your Opponent

New Jersey Devils

Record: 16-4-0 | 32 PTS

Last Game: 2-1 Loss vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Division Ranking: 1st in Metropolitan Division

PP: 21st (20%)

PK: 7th (82.1%)

What to Watch

1. Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

As most hockey fans are aware of by now, Lindy Ruff’s New Jersey Devils are on a pretty sick tear. Prior to their loss against the Leafs Wednesday night, they won 13 consecutive games, tying their franchise record. Team leaders on the visiting team include Nico Hischier with nine goals and 22 points and Jesper Bratt, who leads in both assists and points with 16 and 24, respectively. The Devils are 8-1-0 on the road and rank fourth in the league with average goals per game at 3.7 (the Sabres, coincidentally, are ranked third...who would have thought?). And, even though the Sabres are doing well on the powerplay as of late (they converted on two of three versus the Blues), New Jersey is currently 7th in the league on the penalty kill. This matchup will easily separate the men from the boys.

2. Turning the Corner?

If you watched Tuesday’s matchup against the Canadiens, you may have seen a plethora of goals [finally] scored by the Sabres in their 7-2 victory on the road. That game was one of the few this season where the whole team seemed to contribute something positive in each period. The following night, the Sabres not only brought on the nostalgia with the “goathead” jerseys, but earned a consecutive, fun win. With yet another high-scoring game, Buffalo defeated the St. Louis Blues with a final score of 6-2 (while simultaneously snapping their opponent’s seven-game win streak). The Sabres had more goals in these two games than their previous six matchups. They are facing a challenging opponent tonight, but if Buffalo continues what they have started these last few games, the Devils could be in for a surprise. The cherry on top will be watching the home team play another game with the reverse retro goathead jerseys. Two goathead games in a row? Yes, please.

3. I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Jeff Skinner is always fun to watch, but lately he has been even more of a delight. In his last five games, he has tallied nine points. In the Sabres’ matchup against the Canadiens, he had five points alone. In conjunction with linemate Alex Tuch, Skinner is on a five-game point streak and Wednesday’s game against the Blues also marked his first time with multiple goals in consecutive games as a Sabre. One more point tonight and Skinner will have his best six-game stretch since 2018.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards*

Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Alex Tuch

Victor Olofsson - Casey Mittelstadt - Vinnie Hinostroza

JJ Peterka - Dylan Cozens - Jack Quinn

Zemgus Girgensons - Peyton Krebs - Tyson Jost

*Kyle Okposo is set to rejoin the lineup tonight after his most recent injury. Rasmus Asplund is day-to-day.

Defense*

Mattias Samuelsson - Rasmus Dahlin

Owen Power - Henri Jokiharju

Casey Fitzgerald/Lawrence Pilut - Ilya Lyubushkin

*Jacob Bryson is week-to-week.

Goaltenders: Craig Anderson (expected), Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

New Jersey Devils

Forwards

Tomas Tatar - Nico Hischier - Dawson Mercer

Erik Haula - Jack Hughes - Jesper Bratt

Yegor Sharangovich - Jesper Boqvist - Fabian Zetterlund

Miles Wood - Michael McLeod - Nathan Bastian

Defense

Jonas Siegenthaler - Dougie Hamilton

Ryan Graves - John Marino

Brendan Smith - Damon Severson

Goaltenders: Vitek Vanecek, Akira Schmid