COLUMBUS – The Buffalo Sabres go for their third straight road win and fourth straight victory overall Saturday in Nationwide Arena with a 7 p.m. game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. (MSG, Radio 550)). Buffalo is 6-4 while Columbus is 5-4 and both teams enter the day three points out of the lead in their respective divisons.
Here are Five Things to Know about tonight's game:
1. A real live winning streak: The Sabres have won three straight and are going for four in a row for the first time since Dec. 9-15, 2014. They are 0-6 since then in games where they have been sitting on three straight wins.
"We're starting to develop a bit of an identity. It's important to be able to do that as a team," captain Jack Eichel said after today's optional morning skate. "That's the way you play every night. We're starting to figure out what's made us successful. If we do it more times than not, we could have success."
The Sabres have not won four straight in regulation since taking five in a row from March 19-27, 2012.
2. Battle of the backups: The goaltending matchup tonight will showcase Linus Ullmark vs. Joonas Korpisalo and not Carter Hutton vs. Sergei Bobrovsky. In both cases, the backup has better numbers.
Buffalo: Hutton: 4-4, 3.08, .905/Ullmark 2-0, 0.50, .982
Columbus: Bobrovsky: 2-4, 3.87, .872/Korpisalo 3-0, 3.30/.898
"Carter has gotten the most work and has had to play in a lot of tough games," coach Phil Housley said today. "Linus has been outstanding for us and we knew we had to get Linus back in. That's why he's playing for us tonight.
"This is going to be a tough challenge for him. He's been very square to the puck. He's not fighting things. He's letting the puck hit him and he's been really good challenging. When the moment is there, he'll get out and challenge the shooters."
(An aside: Korpisalo's father, Jori, was relieved of his duties Friday as general manager of Assät in the Finnish league.)
3. Who's Hot: Jeff Skinner has 10 points in his last six games (five goals, five assists). Eichel has nine points in nine games (3-6) but no goals in his last seven. Jason Pominville has three goals and six points in his last six games. Jake McCabe has five points in five games.
4. Not working overtime: The Sabres and Dallas are the only remaining NHL teams not to play past 60 minutes this season. The Sabres, in fact, have played 23 straight regulation games dating to last season, their longest stretch of games not tied after the third period since going 30 straight during the 1979-80 season.
More minutiae: Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Conor Sheary all skated today after missing practice Friday due to maintenance days. Eichel said he's fine while Housley said the trio will be gametime decisions. ... Pominville will play in his 998th career game. He needs one point to take over sole possession of 10th place in franchise history (498) and three to get to 500. ... Columbus racked up a season-high goal total in Thursday's 7-4 win in St. Louis. That win came after back-to-back 4-1 home losses to Chicago and Arizona.