NEW YORK – It’s the start of a busy week for Buffalo. The Sabres will play five games in seven days.
Here’s a look at the first as the Sabres visit the New Jersey Devils on Monday.
1. Get your rest …
The Sabres opted out of a morning skate in the Devils’ arena because they’ll need all the energy they can get. After facing the Devils, they’ll host San Jose on Tuesday and Anaheim on Thursday. Buffalo visits Toronto on Saturday and hosts Vancouver on Sunday.
Coach Dan Bylsma will provide lineup updates about two hours prior to Monday’s 7 p.m. faceoff.
2. … you may need it
There’s a good chance the Sabres and Devils will go to overtime and beyond. Buffalo has gone to more shootouts with the Devils than any other nondivisional opponent, with 12 shootouts in the 32 matchups since 2007-08. Buffalo is 7-5 in the breakaway challenges with the Devils.
The teams went to overtime Nov. 11 as New Jersey earned a 2-1 victory. The Devils beat the Sabres, 4-2, the following night. This is the final meeting between the teams.
— Buffalo News Sports (@TBNSports) January 20, 2017
3. Interesting net decision awaits
With back-to-back games, odds are good that goaltenders Robin Lehner and Anders Nilsson will each get a start. The numbers create a quandary.
It seemingly makes sense to start Nilsson at home Tuesday because of his numbers in KeyBank Center. He is 6-1-1 with a .946 save percentage and 1.84 goals-against average at home, and he’s 2-6-3 with a .904 and 3.20 on the road.
However, Nilsson in 4-1-1 against the Devils with a .953 save percentage and 1.98 GAA. With seven appearances, he has played more games against New Jersey than any other team and earned his first win against the Devils with a 24-save shutout March 4, 2012.
Lehner is 5-1-1 with a .928 save percentage in 2017.
EVENING UPDATE: Lehner is in.
4. Cold at home, chilly on the road
One of the teams will improve a number that needs a boost. New Jersey is 0-5-2 in its last seven games in Prudential Center. Buffalo has lost two straight on the road as part of a 2-5-1 skid.
Overall, the Sabres are 21-20-10 and the Devils are 22-21-10.
5. On a roll
Linemates Evander Kane and Brian Gionta have been streaking on the road.
Kane has three goals and eight points in his last five road games. If he adds a point Monday, he’ll have a career-best six-game point streak on the road.
Gionta can also set a career mark. He has a six-game road streak going, putting up four goals and seven points. It’s his longest streak since March 21-April 18, 2006.