BROOKLYN – The Christmas break is over. The run to the Winter Classic is starting.
Here are Five Things to Know as the Buffalo Sabres visit the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.
1. A break from losing
The three-day Christmas break allowed the Sabres to reset following Saturday's 4-2 loss in Carolina. After the game, Jack Eichel said the team lacked maturity and needed to grow up.
Coach Phil Housley wanted the players to keep hockey on their minds as they unwrapped presents. Buffalo is 9-20-7 this season, including 4-12-5 in the last 21 games.
"I said to have a good Christmas but make sure you do something during the three days so we can get right back after it against the Islanders," Housley said in Barclays Center.
The Sabres' lines and defense pairs during the morning skate:
Zemgus Girgensons-Jack Eichel-Sam Reinhart
Evander Kane-Ryan O'Reilly-Kyle Okposo
Benoit Pouliot-Evan Rodrigues-Jason Pominville
Johan Larsson-Jacob Josefson-Jordan Nolan
Scott Wilson as extra
Marco Scandella-Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe-Zach Bogosian
Nathan Beaulieu-Justin Falk
Josh Gorges-Victor Antipin
2. High-scoring Isles
Kane leads the Sabres with 15 goals and 33 points. If he played for the Islanders, he would rank third in goals and fifth in points.
John Tavares (21 goals) and Josh Bailey lead the Isles with 46 points each. Anders Lee has 22 goals and 37 points. Rookie sensation Mathew Barzal has 35 points, including 23 assists.
New York is scoring 3.56 goals per game, behind only the 3.74 put up by Tampa Bay.
"We just have to be ready to play," Housley said. "I didn't think we were ready in Carolina. We certainly are going to have to be ready in this building because they like to start fast. They like to establish a physical presence in their forecheck. They come at you hard, so we need to be ready at the start of the game."
The Sabres are last at 2.17 goals scored, and the Islanders are last at 3.5 goals allowed.
3. Home wins
The Islanders are 11-3-3 in Barclays Center, which has helped put the 19-13-4 club into a playoff position.
The Sabres are 4-10-5 on the road. This is the second of seven straight away from home, including Monday's outdoor game against the New York Rangers.
4. Interesting special teams
The Sabres' 30th-ranked power play could get the boost it needs. New York's penalty killers also rank a lowly 30th.
Buffalo is 0 for 8 with the man advantage in the last five games. The Islanders have given up a power-play goal in 10 of their last 14 games.
On the other side, the Sabres' penalty killers will have work to do. New York ranks fifth on the power play and has scored in the last six games, going an impressive 8 for 20 during the stretch. The Sabres' penalty killers ranked 12th overall (82.1 percent) but just 27th on the road (75 percent).
The #Sabres return from holiday break Wednesday night. They're 9-20-7.
Take a look at how they got there at our 2017-18 season page, featuring reporting via the sick mitts of @BuffNewsVogl, @ByMHarrington, @amymoritz & @BNphotographers: https://t.co/IDB5I9y3h7 pic.twitter.com/99krK6ID6z
— Buffalo News Sports (@TBNSports) December 27, 2017
5. Sabres can't fall behind
The Islanders are perfect with the lead. They are 11-0 when leading after one period, and they are 14-0 when leading after two.
The Sabres are 1-12-1 when trailing after one period and 1-17-2 when trailing after two.
Jaroslav Halak will start in net for the Islanders. He is 10-8-2 with a .906 save percentage. Robin Lehner will start for the Sabres. He is 8-14-4 with a .915, including a .940 in his last seven games.