The New York Islanders will travel to Buffalo to meet the Sabres Friday night as they attempt to end a three-game losing streak. This will be the first time ex-Isles forward Kyle Okposo will face his former team. Okposo played more than eight full seasons with the Islanders after they selected him in the first round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
The Islanders are going with J.F. Berube in goal. This will be Berube’s first start and second appearance of the season. The 25-year-old rookie has only played in eight games with the Islanders over the last two seasons as the club’s third goalie. The lack of playing time and practice time has to have hampered his development.
Robin Lehner will be between the pipes for the Sabres. Lehner is going for his second straight win after defeating the Los Angeles Kings 6-3 on Tuesday night.
The Sabres are finally getting healthy with Jack Eichel back in the lineup and playing well. Buffalo is still without the services of Zach Bogosian and Taylor Fedun who are practicing with the team but not quite ready to play tonight.
New York Islanders at Buffalo Sabres
First Niagara Center – 7:00 PM EST
Broadcast Channels: MSG-Plus, MSG-Buffalo
2016-17 Season Series: First Meeting of the Season
New York Islanders – 11-13-5 – 27 points
Road Record: 2-7-1
Hot Players: Anders Lee, John Tavares, Casey Cizikas
Key Injuries: Adam Pelech
Anders Lee – John Tavares – Josh Bailey
Shane Prince – Brock Nelson – Ryan Strome
Nikolay Kulemin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck
Andrew Ladd – Alan Quine – Jason Chimera
Nick Leddy – Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey – Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan – Dennis Seidenberg
Buffalo Sabres – 11-11-6 – 28 points
Home Record: 5-5-3
Hot Players: Rasmus Ristolainen, Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo
Key Injuries: Tyler Ennis, Taylor Fedun, Cody McCormick
William Carrier – Ryan O’Reilly – Sam Reinhart
Matt Moulson – Jack Eichel – Kyle Okposo
Marcus Foligno – Johan Larsson – Brian Gionta
Nicolas Deslauriers – Zemgus Girgensons – Evander Kane
Jake McCabe – Rasmus Ristolainen
Dmitry Kulikov – Cody Franson
Josh Gorges – Justin Faulk
1)In addition to Kyle Okposo, former Islanders forward Matt Moulson will also be in the Buffalo lineup. Moulson has enjoyed a bounce back season and already has seven goals in 28 games. Moulson has also played very well against the Islanders with five goals and six points in seven career games against his former club.
2)Special teams have been hurting the Islanders this season. Their penalty kill has struggled during the team’s recent three-game losing streak, allowing six power play goals in 10 chances over that stretch. The Islanders also hope their 29th ranked power play can get back on track against Buffalo’s penalty kill which is also ranked next-to-last in the league.
3)The Islanders are playing the second game of a back-to-back and their third game in four nights. The Sabres are well rested and have not played since Tuesday night’s win over the Los Angeles Kings.
4)Jack Eichel has made a big difference for Buffalo. The Sabres are 4-2-1 since Eichel returned to the lineup and the team has scored 23 goals over that span. Eichel himself has five goals and eight points since his return.
5)Anders Lee remains the Islanders hottest goal scorer. Scoring just once in his first 18 games, Lee has tallied eight goals and 10 points in his last 11 games.
This is a game the Islanders have to win if they hope to get back on track and rise in the standings. They will have to overcome inspired opponents like Okposo and Moulson, a hot young talent in Eichel, not to mention their own poor play with the puck, especially in their own zone. Berube will finally get a chance to show what he can do in this, the Islanders 30th game of the season. The Islanders poor road record and Buffalo’s strong play as of late means the Isles will have their work cut out for them tonight.