PHILADELPHIA – It's the first meeting of the season between the Buffalo Sabres and the Philadelphia Flyers, and it takes place at 7 p.m. Thursday in Wells Fargo Center.
Here's what you need to know to get ready for the tilt:
1. The Flyers are hot. Philadelphia is on a four-game winning streak after beating the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-2, on Tuesday. The start of the win streak snapped a 10-game winless stretch in which the Flyers went 0-5-5. The win streak started on a three-game western road trip with regulation victories over Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
"Our identity kind of changed a little bit with that road trip," Flyers center Claude Giroux told the Philadelphia media this week. "We're excited right now in the room. We played a lot of good hockey even when we lost and we didn't get the result. We've got to keep building on this."
2. The Sabres have life. Buffalo is 2-0-2 in its last four games. The Sabres are looking to extend their point streak to five games, which would be the longest since the team recorded points in nine straight games over March 10-27, 2012.
"I think, No. 1, it starts with Robin," Sabres coach Phil Housley said, noting the play of starting goaltender Robin Lehner, who has stopped 149 of 159 shots (.937 save percentage) in his last four games. "He's been terrific for us not only in these last four games but leading into that."
"I think we're just getting some timely goals," Housley said. "I think our starts have been a lot better. Our power play has scored some goals. Our penalty kills has done a great job. But I think we're getting balanced scoring now with different lines. I like the depth. I like the way we're playing now. We're playing a faster game. We're getting in on the forecheck. We're getting some offensive zone time now. We're using the D a lot. The D are trying to find lanes to get pucks to the net, so I think just overall our game has come to a different level."
3. Hot power play vs. hot penalty kill. The Sabres have scored a power play goal in three straight games as the unit begins to click. But they will face an impressive penalty kill by the Flyers. That is, if they get a power play chance at all. Philadelphia allowed a power play goal in its win over Toronto on Tuesday, the first allowed since Nov. 28. In their last five games, the Flyers have killed off eight of nine power plays and have taken two or fewer penalties per game.
4. A streak for Kane. Evander Kane has points in five straight games, his longest streak since notching points in eight straight games from Feb. 12 to Feb. 26, 2013. Kane has two goals and three assists during the streak. Entering Wednesday's games, he is tied with the fourth-longest active streak in the league.
5. The lines remain the same. After finding some chemistry in their last game, a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, the Sabres stayed with the same line combinations at their morning skate in Wells Fargo Center Thursday. To recap:
Benoit Pouliot-Jack Eichel-Jason Pominville
Zemgus Girgensons-Ryan O'Reilly-Kyle Okposo
Evander Kane-Evan Rodrigues-Sam Reinhart
Scott Wilson-Johann Larsson-Jordan Nolan
Hudson Fasching was the extra forward.
On the blueline, Nathan Beaulieu remains out as he regains strength from an illness that has forced him to miss the last four games. The blueline pairings were:
Marco Scandella-Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe-Zach Bogosian
Josh Gorges-Justin Falk
Nathan Beaulieu-Victor Antipin