Puck Drop: 7:30 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Islanders Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
Know Your Opponent
New York Islanders
Record: 23-19-4 | 50 PTS
Last Game: 4-1 loss vs. Boston Bruins
Division Ranking: 6th in Metropolitan Division
PP: 17% (27th)
PK: 82.4% (5th)
What to Watch
1. “Millerrrrr...stops ‘em cold!”
Tonight will be a milestone night for former goaltender Ryan Miller as he will be the 43rd player inducted into the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame. His number banner (30) will be lifted into the rafters during the ceremony, which commences at 6:00.
Miller played for the Blue and Gold from 2002 until 2014. During this tenure here, he made 14,847 saves, recorded 28 shutouts out of his career total of 44, and won the Vezina Trophy in 2010 - the same year he stood on his head to lead team USA to silver at the Winter Olympics, where he was also named Olympic MVP. As of 2019, he is now the most winningest American-born goaltender in NHL history with 391 career wins, 284 of which were with Buffalo.
Also, on this day in 2009, Miller led the team to a 3-2 shootout victory against the Florida Panthers. He remains the NHL’s lead for most shootout wins by an American-born goaltender with 60.
The current Sabres will honor Miller by donning a special patch on their jerseys, which will be available for auction after the game. The ceremony should be both entertaining and nostalgic for fans of Miller, who is arguably the franchise’s best goaltender behind Dominik Hasek.
2. Who’s hot?
There are definitely a handful of players to keep an eye on tonight. For the Islanders, forward Brock Nelson leads his club in goals with 15. Fellow center Mathew Barzal leads New York in both assists and points with 30 and 41, respectively.
No surprise here: Tage Thompson leads the Sabres in several scoring categories. His 32 goals are the most on the team as well as his total in points (59), shots on goal (182), even-strength goals (17), and power-play points (24). He has also tallied eight points in his last eight games.
Other honorable mentions include Alex Tuch, who has 36 points in his last 28 games.
Here is a fun stat for critics of Victor Olofsson, too: in a little over halfway through the season, he has surpassed his previous career-high for even-strength goals with 14. His scoring improvements are welcomed, especially for those that find him to be one-dimensional on the power play.
3. Struggle Bus
Both teams are having their own respective struggles as of late. The Islanders’ main concern seems to be scoring with an average of 2.98 goals per game. Last night, Zach Parise scored the lone goal against the Bruins, so the team will likely be hungry for an increase tonight.
The Sabres - with an average of 3.77 goals per game - have been simply failing to win regulation games in January, minus their victory against the Predators on January 14.
The last time these two teams met was April 23, 2022. Buffalo was victorious with a final score of 5-3. Coincidentally, in their last two games against New York, Buffalo scored at least five goals in each of those games. Can they score five again tonight and claim another win?
Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Alex Tuch
JJ Peterka* - Dylan Cozens - Jack Quinn
Casey Mittelstadt - Tyson Jost - Victor Olofsson
Vinnie Hinostroza* - Rasmus Asplund - Kyle Okposo
Mattias Samuelsson - Rasmus Dahlin
Owen Power - Henri Jokiharju
Jacob Bryson - Ilya Lyubushkin
Goaltenders: Craig Anderson, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (expected starter)
*Peterka was loaned to Rochester today, so it is unclear who will play in his spot or if he can be recalled following Vinnie Hinostroza’s waiver.
New York Islanders
Josh Bailey - Mathew Barzal - William Dufour
Anders Lee - Brock Nelson - Anthony Beauvillier
Zach Parise - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Hudson Fasching
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Sebastian Aho - Noah Dobson
Alexander Romanov - Scott Mayfield
Dennis Cholowski - Ryan Pulock
Goaltenders: Ilya Sorokin, Semyon Varlamov
Injured: Kyle Palmieri (upper body, IR), Adam Pelech (upper body, IR), Oliver Wahlstrom (lower body, IR)