The preseason comes to a close tonight for the Buffalo Sabres who host the New York Islanders at 7:05 p.m. in Key Bank Center.
Here's what you need to know for tonight's game, which will be broadcast on MSG and WGR 550:
1. It's dress rehearsal time. The last exhibition game provides another opportunity to look at player on the cusp while allowing veterans to become crisper in their roles.
"Obviously we want to win," Sabres coach Phil Housley said after his team's morning skate in Key Bank Center. "We have a week to think about our next game for a home opener, so we'd like to come out and put forth a good effort."
Look again for Evander Kane, Jack Eichel and Jason Pominville to skate on the top line with Ryan O'Reilly centering Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo.
Sam Reinhart will center Matt Moulson and play his first game with Seth Griffith on his right wing. The fourth line looks to be Johan Larsson, Jacob Josefson and Jordan Nolan. Odds are that the Justin Bailey, Nic Deslauriers and Benoit Pouliot will sit this one out.
2. Seth Griffith gets a chance to impress. The 24-year-old right winger is one of the players fighting for a spot on the Sabres roster out of training camp. While he's been impressive so far, Griffith needs to use his speed to create in the offensive zone.
"I think he's got to play with speed," Housley said. "He can make plays when he has time and space. The big thing for me is him using that speed to provide that area of his game where he can get his head up and survey the ice a little bit. I really like the way he gets on the forecheck and using his speed that way. Those are things we're going to look at as we evaluate this last game. He's been a big contributor in the offensive zone for sure."
3. The defense is deep. Jake McCabe and Marco Scandella remain out with injury, but the blue line continues to show quality depth. While some still have to go to Rochester to start the season, the ability of the Sabres to bring up people as needed and not lose a beat will be crucial to creating success in the regular season.
"I think all the guys that are going to get an opportunity tonight as we continue evaluating our lineup … it's good to show what they can bring to our team," Housley said. "There's going to be injuries during the season where we're going to have to call guys up and have that depth at defense. I really like where our D-corps is right now as far as depth is concerned."
4. The power play is still looking for its first goal. Granted, the Sabres haven't had a ton of opportunities on the power play in their first five preseason games. and going 0-for-18 with the man advantage hasn't sounded any alarm bells just yet.
"We've really only had one full game together," Sabres forward Ryan O'Reilly said, noting the power play units haven't featured their usual suspects for much of training camp. "We haven't really done much. Even in practice, we haven't practiced it a lot. ... We should have scored. We have good enough players where we definitely should have had some goals, but it's not something that's going to click right away."
5. The Sabres would like to end the preseason on a winning note. The Sabres have just one win in their first five preseason games. That win came on Sept. 19 in a 4-3 overtime decision against Pittsburgh at Penn State. The Sabres have lost their last three games.
Fun preseason stats: The Sabres are 8-15-6 in preseason contests against the New York Islanders including 4-4-2 at home. This is the first preseason matchup between the teams since 1996. Buffalo's all-time preseason record is 153-160-53 with a 40-24-7 mark since the 2005-06 season.