The Buffalo Sabres have not won back-to-back games in February. Their best chance presents itself Thursday night.
The Sabres host the Colorado Avalanche at 7:30 p.m. in KeyBank Center. Buffalo is fresh off a third-period rally which gave them a 3-2 win against the Senators in Ottawa on Tuesday.
The Avs, meanwhile, aren’t doing so well. They lost their fourth straight game on Thursday, a 3-2 setback to the Devils in New Jersey.
The numbers get worse for Colorado. The Avs are 2-8 in their last 10 games. They are 8-18-1 on the road. They have a minus-75 goal differential. They’ve won just 15 of their 54 games this season and are in last place in the NHL – by 13 points.
At this rate, Colorado is on pace for 49 points. That would be the second-lowest point total in the three-point era. The 1999-00 Atlanta Thrashers hold that record at 39.
Asked after Tuesday’s loss if there was any good to come out of it, Colorado coach Jared Bednar told reporters, “There’s really no good coming out of any games unless you’re digging in and finding a way to get points. We fought hard at times but I just think we were lacking some jump in our step here today.”
While all signs point to a golden opportunity for the Sabres to string together two wins, the team has been consistently inconsistent. They have not won back-to-back games since winning three straight overtime games from Jan. 20-24 against Detroit, Montreal and Nashville.
The Sabres earned back-to-back points with an overtime loss at the New York Rangers on Feb. 2 followed by a win against the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 4.
Expected to be in the Avs lineup Thursday are former Sabres Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov. Both players were part of the trade in June 2015 that brought Ryan O’Reilly to the Sabres.
Grigorenko played for the Avs when the team visited Buffalo last season, picking up an assist in a 4-1 Colorado loss.
Zadorov was with the organization’s American Hockey League affiliate at the time.
This go-round, they’re both on the roster.
“I missed the game there last year,” Zadorov told the Denver Post. “I’m going to be excited to play there this year. It’s a good memory. I have a few friends on their team and it’s going to be a great matchup to play against guys I know.”
Zadorov has 10 assists in 53 games this season for the Avs. He played 67 games with Buffalo over two seasons with four goals and 12 assists.
Grigorenko played 68 games for the Sabres over three seasons with six goals and eight assists. He has 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 51 games for the Avs this season.
“I think I need to shoot more and not overcomplicate things,” Grigorenko told the Denver Post. “I think sometimes with shooting position, I try to look for a better place and hesitate a little bit. It’s been tough on our team this year. We’re all struggling a little bit and we don’t have the confidence to put the puck in the net. I think most of us need to shoot more and for me, that’s always the thing. Everybody is always telling me that. I know that. I’m trying to.”
The Sabres were off on Wednesday, which meant no updates on forward Evander Kane, who missed Tuesday’s game in Ottawa with an illness. … The Sabres have a 1-10-2 record on Thursdays. … Kyle Okposo has points in seven straight games, his longest streak since tying his career-best eight-game streak from Dec. 17, 2013 to Jan. 2, 2014. … Jack Eichel has 15 points in his last 15 games while Sam Reinhart has five points in his last five games.