Buffalo Sabres Host Red-Hot New Jersey Devils


The Buffalo Sabres look to start yet another set of back-to-back games with a win tonight as they host the New Jersey Devils on Friday night at First Niagara Center. The puck drops at 7 p.m. as the Devils and Sabres meet for the third and final time this season.

In the last meeting, the Devils defeated the Sabres 2-1 in overtime on February 17.

One thing that’s in Buffalo’s favor heading into tonight: the Devils haven’t won here since February 14, 2012. That’s four consecutive losses, including three in a shootout. With a win tonight, the Sabres can improve their home winning streak over the Devils to five games, marking the first such occurrence since 1980-1983.

Overall, the Sabres have a home record of 40-22-10 against the Devils.

Watch for some extra free hockey tonight — 10 of the last 18 games between these teams have gone to either overtime or a shootout, including seven of the last 10. The Sabres have played more shootouts against New Jersey than any other non-divisional opponent. Will tonight follow accordingly?

Heading into tonight’s game, the Devils are 12th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 30-29-11 and 71 points. They’re 5-3-2 in their last ten games and overall, 12-19-3 on the road.  The Devils are riding a hot hand, coming off two consecutive victories heading into tonight’s game in Buffalo. The Devils last played on Tuesday, when they shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 2-0.

Jacob Josefson and Adam Henrique scored for the Devils, while Cory Schneider had 35 saves in the shutout.

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The Sabres, meanwhile, are 20-42-7, 47 points, with a 3-5-2 record in their last 10 games. The Sabres are 12-19-4 at First Niagara Center this season. The Sabres, of course, are coming off Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout victory over the Boston Bruins. Anders Lindback had a season-high 44 saves in the win.

For the Buffalo Sabres, it looks like we’ll see Anders Lindback in goal once again this evening, as he was the first goaltender off the ice at morning skate.

Andrej Meszaros is ready to return to the lineup, which puts the status of Chad Ruhwedel as “uncertain.” Ruhwedel was an emergency call-up and needs to be returned to the AHL immediately, or else the Sabres are forced to make him a standard recall. If so, the team will have no standard recalls left for this season.

Players to watch for the Sabres include Matt Moulson, who leads the team with 12 points (7-5) in 30 career games against New Jersey. Nicolas Desluariers continues to rank eighth in the NHL in hits, with 226 on the year.

Tyler Ennis continues to lead the Sabres with 38 points, including a team-high 18 goals, in 68 games this season. Ennis also leads the team with 13 power-play points and 157 shots on goal.

Meanwhile, for the Devils, keep an eye on center Adam Henrique, who has 38 points (16-22) this season. Left winger Mike Cammalleri leads New Jersey with 25 goals this season, at least nine more than any other player on the NJD roster.

Henrique and Cammalleri are payers to watch on the power play as well, with 14 and nine points with the man advantage, respectively. Cammalleri will shoot a lot and often, as he’s recorded 133 shots on goal this season (in 58 games played.) He has eight game-winning goals and is shooting at 18.8 percent accuracy.

Also keep an eye out for 20-year-old Damon Severson, the Devils’ top-shooting defenseman. Severson has put up 15 points, including 11 assists, in 39 games with the Devils this season. Nearly half (7) of his points have come with the man advantage, and he’s also recorded 83 shots on goal.

Tonight, of course, is a reunion for the Gionta brothers. Stephen Gionta, Devils center, has recorded 12 points (5-7) in 52 games this season. Brian Gionta, meanwhile, has put up 14 points (7-14) in 57 games with the Sabres this year. Brian, of course, also formerly played for the Devils.

It’s also a reunion for Marcus Foligno, who faces his father tonight. Mike Foligno is an assistant coach for the Devils.

After a pair of nationally-televised games earlier this week, the Sabres return to MSG for tonight’s game. Fans in Southern Ontario can catch the game on Bell, while WGR550 will have the radio broadcast as the puck drops at 7 p.m.

Following tonight’s game, the Sabres head to Nashville for a bout with the Predators on Saturday night. The Smashville meetup will see the Sabres face former fan favorite Paul Gaustad and the slightly-scary slapshot of defenseman Shea Weber.

Next: What Happens Next for Sabres?

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