WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Brrr.
It's minus-4 Fahrenheit late this afternoon in the True North and heading to minus-8. Pretty appropriate for the kind of cold performance the Buffalo Sabres put out in Thursday's 6-2 loss at Minnesota that was 6-0 through 40 minutes.
It's a quick turnaround for the Sabres tonight as they meet the Central Division-leading Winnipeg Jets in Bell MTS Place. Faceoff is 8 p.m. on MSG and WGR Radio 550. Oddly enought, the Sabres own four straight wins over Winnipeg, including two here.
Here are Five Things to Know:
Halfway home: The Sabres are 10-21-9 heading into Game 41, and hit the exact halfway mark on the schedule tonight. Buffalo was 16-16-9 at that stage last year with 41 points in 41 games.
Lineup changes: Josh Gorges and Scott Wilson will return to the lineup tonight, with Wilson returning after four straight games as a healthy scratch. Justin Falk will sit out tonight and the big news is Benoit Pouliot will miss his first game of the season -- also as a healthy scratch.
"It's just a decision coming off a game last night," coach Phil Housley said during his pregame meeting with reporters. "There's some fresh people on a back to back game where we're going to try to implement in our lineup."
Pouliot has eight goals and three assists on the season but has no points in his last nine games and is minus-4 in his last three. He comes under the heading of your better players better be your better players.
"There's a lot of guys that fall into that place," Housley noted. "We've got some fresh guys that have been chomping at the bit to get back in the lineup and we're going to give them an opportunity."
In the Nets: Robin Lehner gave up six goals Thursday night in two periods before getting a mercy pull to start the third. Backup Chad Johnson did not allow a goal in the third and gets the start tonight on the back-to-back. He's stuck on one win and with ugly season numbers (1-6-3/3.68/.884).
Winnipeg is going with starter Connor Hellebuyck -- who is 21-4-6/2.38/.922. Hellebuyck, who is tied for third in the NHL in wins, is 5-0-2 with 13 goals allowed and two shutouts in his past seven starts.
No discipline for Risto: The NHL did not announce any fine or supplemental discipline for Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen so he's good to go for tonight. The league undoubtedly felt Ristolainen essentially served a one-game suspension with Thursday's game misconduct, which came just 10 minutes into the first period.
"We can't dwell on what happened the last game but it's good to have him fresh," Housley said. "He only played five minutes last night so he should be ready to go."
Jets are soaring, especially at home: Winnipeg enters the game as the suprise leader in the rugged Central Division with 53 points. The Jets are 14-3-1 at home -- and 13-1-1 in their last 15 games as they continue to push forward even though star center Mark Scheifele is out 6-8 weeks with what's believed to be a shoulder injury. He had 38 points in 38 games before his injury.
Former Sabre Tyler Myers has five goals, 14 assists and a plus-7 rating for the Jets while defense partner Dmitry Kulikov is at 2-8-10 and plus-6 over 39 games. In 47 games last year for the Sabres, Kulikov had two goals and three assists -- with a minus-26 rating. Winger Joel Armia, also a former Buffalo first-round draft pick, has six goals and 10 assists this season.