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Buffalo Sabres PreGame Skate #5: Columbus Blue Jackets

It happened in front of a home audience – and shouldn’t have ended that way, but the Buffalo Sabres have a point in the standings, but are still looking for win number one

in the 2013-2014 regular season.  Buffalo has not won a regular season game since closing out the season last year with a  victory on Fan Appreciation Night April 26th.

Tonight’s game pits the Buffalo Sabres (0-3-1) against a new conference rival – as it will be the first time the Columbus Blue Jackets (1-1-0) skate into First Niagara Center as a part of the Eastern Conference.

Buffalo will face off against Columbus three times this season, including two home games at First Niagara Center.  Despite this being the first game against the Blue Jackets – they should not be unfamiliar foes.  These teams met twice in the pre season – with Buffalo coming away victorious in both efforts.  The pre season is largely a different animal than the regular season as we have found.  Buffalo found no problems putting the puck in the net in the pre season, but has only mustered four goals so far – using Tuesday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning to double their goal scoring.

The Sabres will have Ryan Miller back in net tonight – and you have to hope that he is still playing at the form he started the season with – as the team is averaging just one goal a game.

Despite winning their second game of the season, Columbus has never led a game in regulation time.  They trailed the Calgary Flames en route to losing their home opener 4-3, and came from behind against the New York Islanders to eventually win the game in a shootout.  Buffalo has held a lead in regulation twice – but failed to hold both leads against Tampa.

Columbus may be getting the services of Jarred Boll back, as he practiced yesterday and could be reinserted back into the lineup tonight.  They continue to be without Nathan Horton (shoulder) and Fedor Tyutin (lower body).  No change on the injury front to the Buffalo Sabres, as rookie defenseman Nikita Zadarov is questionable with a hand injury, and Corey Tropp and Ville Leino remain sidelined with their injuries.

Ryan Miller’s injury was minor – so his two game break was preventative to ensure that the Buffalo Sabres star goaltender didn’t further injure himself.

While Buffalo has had one day of rest before tonight’s game – Columbus has had four days off since playing the Islanders – and will be well rested for tonight’s battle.  Columbus likes to play an aggressive forecheck – so the Buffalo Sabres defense will have to be on their game tonight.

Buffalo’s special teams turned it around against Tampa – with the penalty kill still operating at near perfect, and the power play finally getting on the board.  The penalty kill will have to be mindful of the Blue Jackets powerplay – who has gone 2 for 5 through their first two games.  Columbus may not give Buffalo many power play chances – only taking 6 penalties in their first two games.

Game time is scheduled for 7PM tonight – and fans in Buffalo can see the game live on MSG.  Other than the Buffalo Sabres, the New Jersey Devils and Minnesota Wild are also still looking for their first win of the season as well.

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Columbus Blue Jackets

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