Kyle Okposo was the topic of the morning. The Sabres hope he is the talk of the evening.
Here are Five Things to Know as the Sabres host the New York Islanders on Friday night.
1. Okposo facing former team for first time.
Buffalo’s top right winger spent the opening nine years of his career with the Islanders. He’s glad his first game against them is in Buffalo rather than at his old stomping grounds.
“I had a little more jump in my step this morning,” Okposo said after an optional morning skate in KeyBank Center. “It’s just going to be a weird feeling playing these guys. It’ll be fun to go battle against them. I sure battled enough with them.”
The Isles elected not to offer the unrestricted free agent a contract, and he jumped at a seven-year deal with the Sabres.
“This was one game that he did talk about,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “I’m sure he’s going to get on the ice tonight, look at the jerseys and feel a little bit awkward seeing the Islander jersey on the other side.
“At the same time, he doesn’t feel like he needs to go out and do everything himself to win this game. He just needs to go out and play his game.”
2. Robin Lehner goes for two in a row.
The Sabres’ No. 1 goaltender will start for the fifth time in six games. He made 30 saves during Tuesday’s 6-3 victory over Los Angeles to move to 2-6-3 in his last 11 decisions.
Lehner will get the chance at a second straight victory. He hasn’t won two in a row since Oct. 30-Nov. 1.
Anders Nilsson is expected to start Saturday in Carolina.
3. Isles turning to Jean-Francois Berube.
Berube has watched all but six minutes this season, but New York is giving the goaltender his first start of the year. While the Islanders were suffering a 5-4 loss to Chicago on Thursday night, the 25-year-old Berube was already in Buffalo preparing for the start.
The fourth-round pick from 2009 has made just eight NHL appearances.
4. Same defense for Sabres.
Zach Bogosian (knee) and Taylor Fedun (upper body) took part in the Sabres’ skate but will not return to the lineup. Bogosian will miss his 20th straight game, while Fedun will sit for the fifth time in a row.
One or both will make the trip to Carolina.
5. Sabres feeling good.
The victory over the Kings has boosted Buffalo’s confidence. It’s also given them 3.3 goals per game in the seven outings since Jack Eichel returned.
“As of late we’ve played the hockey that we wanted to play, getting to our game and trying to wear teams down, be consistent with it through 60 minutes,” left wing Matt Moulson said. “I think we’re coming along. Wins are tough in this league every night. It’s a battle. I think we’re definitely getting to where we want to be.”