The Buffalo Sabres suffered a 1-0 loss to the New York Islanders when the teams met Nov. 2 in KeyBank Center. They're not the only team to get shut down by coach Barry Trotz's crew this season.
But the Sabres are scoring four goals a game of late, collecting 36 in their last nine starts while going 5-1-3. And they're gunning for their first four-game winning streak of the season. Playing the NHL's best defensive team will be a major hurdle to overcome Saturday afternoon in NYCB Live/Nassau Coliseum.
"They've basically been doing it a year and a half now," said Sabres winger and former Islander Kyle Okposo. "You look at their style of play, their coach they have and their buy-in, they're obviously doing a good job at it. We know we're in for a tough game because we know how good they are defensively. It will be a tough test for us."
The Islanders (21-7-2) are second to Washington in the Metropolitan Division and third in the Eastern Conference. They have given up just 70 goals over their first 30 games (and Dallas is the only other NHL team under 80). They also have a combined 12-2-1 home record between the Coliseum and Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The Islanders had a franchise record 17-game point streak (15-0-2) that ended Nov. 25 in Anaheim and are 18-0-1 this season when scoring three or more goals in a game.
The Sabres outshot them, 27-21, in the first meeting and that includes an 11-4 count in the third period. But Semyon Varlamov made every save to make Derick Brassard's first-period goal stand up.
"There's a lot of what they're doing that would mirror what we're still striving for," said Sabres coach Ralph Krueger. "Grinding, consistent and punishing. You do anything outside your structure, you will get punished for it as quick as with any team in the league."
Varlamov and Thomas Greiss have split the goaltending duties, with Varlamov at 10-3-3, 2.26/.926 in 17 games and Greiss at 11-4-0, 2.16/.932.
The latest numbers on Jack Eichel's season and his ongoing point streak:
* Eichel enters Saturday's game tied with Boston's David Pastrnak for fifth in the NHL in scoring with 46 points (22 goals, 24 assists).
* Eichel's 22 goals on the season entered Friday second in the NHL, four shy of the lead set by Boston's David Pastrnak and six shy of his career high of 28 set last year. Eichel's six multi-goal games this season lead the league.
* Eichel has points in 15 straight games, tying Chicago's Patrick Kane for the longest run in the league this season. The 2015-16 season is the only other one to feature multiple American players with point streaks of 15+ games as Kane reached 26 games and Philadelphia's Shayne Gostisbehere reached 15.
* Eichel has 27 points during the streak (14 goals, 13 assists) and leads the NHL in scoring and plus-minus (plus-15) since it began on Nov. 16.
As expected, No. 1 draft pick Dylan Cozens has been selected to play for Canada at the upcoming World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic as the roster was announced late Thursday night.
Cozens, taken No. 7 overall by Buffalo in June at Vancouver, will be joining Lethbridge teammate Calen Addison on the 24-man roster. Addison, a defenseman, was a 2018 second-round pick of Pittsburgh. Cozens is second in the Western Hockey League in both goals (20) and points (46).