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Buffalo Sabres game preview: 12/29/18 vs. Boston

STAFF REPORTS


LAST GAME
Thursday, December 27
Buffalo 1 at St. Louis 4
Goals: Eichel
Goalie: Hutton (28 saves/32 shots)
PP: 1/2; PK: 1/1; Shots: St. Louis 32 – Buffalo 31

CURRENT INJURIES – (Man Games Lost: 151)Player (injury, first game missed) – total games missedScott Wilson (ankle, Oct. 4; injured reserve) – 38 games
Casey Nelson (upper body, Dec. 8; injured reserve) – 9 games
Nathan Beaulieu (upper body, Dec. 16) – 5 games
Jason Pominville (undisclosed, Dec. 21; injured reserve) – 3 games

TRANSACTIONS IN PAST 7 DAYSN/A

UPCOMING GAMESMonday, Dec. 31: NY Islanders at Buffalo, 6 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 3: Florida at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 5: Buffalo at Boston, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 8: New Jersey at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 11: Buffalo at Carolina, 7:30 p.m.

TONIGHT'S GAMEBRUINS at SABRES
  • This is the third of four meetings between the Sabres and Bruins this season.
  • Last meeting: Buffalo defeated Boston 4-2 in Boston on Dec. 16
  • Next meeting: Saturday, Jan. 5 in Boston
  • The Sabres are 4-6-0 in their last 10 games vs. the Bruins; 2-6-2 at home.
  • This is the 292nd game all-time between Buffalo and Boston; Buffalo has a 125-122-44 series record.
  • The Sabres are 74-50-23 at home against the Bruins all-time.
THIS DAY IN SABRES HISTORY
  • The Sabres are 8-11-4 all-time on December 29.
  • December 29, 1983: Real Cloutier scores three times in a span of 5:21 in the second period to kick-start the Sabres' offense in an 8-5 win vs. Quebec.
  • December 29, 2017: Jake McCabe records an assist in his 200th NHL game, a 4-3 overtime win at New Jersey.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
  • The Sabres are 7-4-2 against the Atlantic Division this season, including a 4-2-1 record at home.
  • Rasmus Ristolainen enters tonight's game on a season-best, four-game point streak (1+3) and is looking to stretch the streak to five games for the first time since January 2018.
  • Linus Ullmark stopped 35 of 37 shots (.946) to post a win in his only previous meeting with Boston when these teams met on Dec. 16.
  • Rasmus Dahlin has two assists in two meetings with the Bruins this season.
  • Jack Eichel has totaled 11 points (5+6) in 12 career games against Boston, including two of his five career games with four or more points.
  • Sam Reinhart has posted six assists in six games against the Bruins since the beginning of last season.
HOME COOKINGBuffalo enters tonight's game with a 12-4-2 (.722) record at home. The team's .722 points percentage at home ties for third in the NHL and puts the Sabres on pace for their eighth-best home record ever, and their best since the 1982-83 season (25-7-8, .725).
KILLING IT
  • The Sabres' penalty kill has gone 27-for-28 (96.4%) in the team's last 10 games. It's the first time the team has allowed one power-play goal or fewer in a 10-game stretch since the team went 22-for-23 (95.7%) from 25 to March 14, 2012. The team's 96.4 percent success rate on the penalty kill during this span is Buffalo's best in a 10-game stretch since Oct. 15 to Nov. 5, 2011 (31-for-32, 96.9%).
  • During this 10-game stretch, the Sabres' goaltenders have turned aside 34 shots on the power play (.971 save percentage) and the team has killed off 48:07 of power-play time.
  • Buffalo entered play Friday ranked fifth in the NHL with a penalty kill percentage of 83.8 percent this season and ranked first in the league since the beginning of December with a 93.3 percent success rate.
COMEBACK KIDS
  • The Sabres are 6-9-2 this season when trailing after two periods. Their six wins when trailing after 40 minutes ties for second-most in the league and their .353 win percentage in those games ranks second.
  • Buffalo's six wins when trailing after two have already surpassed last season's total and leave the team three third-period comebacks shy of the franchise record of nine set in the 2005-06 season.
NOT TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
  • The Sabres are 11-3-5 in one-goal games so far this season. Buffalo last won more than half of its one-goal games in a season in 2011-12 (21-9-11).
  • The team's current .579 winning percentage in one-goal games would be the 11th-best mark in franchise history and would be the Sabres' best record in one-goal games since 2006-07 (25-9-7, .610).
WORKING OVERTIME
  • The Sabres are 8-5 in games that have been tied after regulation this season, including a 5-4 record in overtime and a 3-1 record in shootouts. Their five overtime wins have already matched their overtime win total from last season (5-10) and their three shootout wins are the team's highest total since 2014-15 (8-5).
  • Jeff Skinner is tied for the league lead with three overtime goals this season. Skinner's total through 35 games matches the Sabres' single-season record shared by Daniel Briere (2006-07) and Derek Roy (2009-10) and ties him for 10th-most career overtime goals in franchise history.
SAM I AM
  • Sam Reinhart has recorded 34 points (8+26) in his last 30 games, including each of his career-high 12 multi-point games this season.
  • The Sabres are 16-5-3 this season when Reinhart records at least one point and 27-4-6 (.811) in his career when he records at least two.
DAH-LEAN ON MEEntering play Friday, Rasmus Dahlin led rookie defensemen and ranked third among all NHL rookies with 20 points (4+16) this season.
  • With his 20th point in his 37th game on Dec. 22 vs. Anaheim, he was the fourth-fastest 18-year-old defenseman in NHL history to reach the 20-point mark, trailing only Phil Housley (28 GP), Ray Bourque (30 GP) and Aaron Ekblad (34 GP).
  • Only nine defensemen in NHL history have recorded more points before their 19th birthdays than Dahlin's
  • Dahlin's totals put him on pace for 43 points this season. It would tie as the sixth-most by a rookie defenseman since the 2005-06 season and would trail only Phil Housley (57 points in 1982-83) for most ever by a defenseman before his 19th birthday.
POINTS IN BUNCHES
  • Jack Eichel recorded his 18th multi-point game of the season on Saturday vs. Anaheim (0+2). He has now recorded two points in eight of his last 13 games.
  • Eichel's 18 multi-point games tied him with Nikita Kucherov, Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon for the league lead entering play Friday and have already matched his single-season high.
LEADING THE WAY
  • Since Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner and Sam Reinhart began playing together on Nov. 13 vs. Tampa Bay, the Sabres have gone 12-6-3 and gotten a goal from at least one of the three in all but two of the team's 21 games.
  • Each of the three has played at or near a point-per-game pace in the 21 games since they began playing together as a line:
    • Eichel: 30 points (11+19), plus-11 rating
    • Reinhart: 25 points (6+19), plus-10 rating
    • Skinner: 19 points (14+5), plus-8 rating
  • All three are currently on pace to shatter their personal bests in points on the strength of career-best production at even strength that ranks them each among the best even-strength players in the league this season:
Player/Season GP G A PTS ES G ES A ES P
Eichel Career High (2017-18) 67 25 39 64 22 20 42
Eichel 2018-19 38 15 34 49 11 25 36
Eichel 2018-19 (Pace) 82 32 73 106 24 54 78
Skinner Career High (2016-17) 79 37 26 63 30 18 48
Skinner 2018-19 38 26 12 38 20 8 28
Skinner 2018-19 (Pace) 82 56 26 82 43 17 60
Reinhart Career High (2017-18) 82 25 25 50 13 16 29
Reinhart 2018-19 38 8 29 37 7 20 27
Reinhart 2018-19 (Pace) 82 17 63 80 15 43 58
MAKING HISTORY
  • If he maintains his current pace, Jack Eichel would finish the season tied with Alexander Mogilny (78 in 1992-93) for the second-most even-strength points ever recorded by a Sabre, trailing only Pat LaFontaine (83) in 1992-93, and would top LaFontaine's franchise-record 52 even-strength assists that season. He would also become the first Sabre to record more than 95 points since the 1992-93 season (LaFontaine/Mogilny/Hawerchuk).
  • Jeff Skinner is currently on pace to tie Danny Gare for the second-highest goal total in Sabres history (56 in 1979-80), trailing only Mogilny in 1992-93 (76). His 43 even-strength goals would finish behind only Mogilny's even-strength total from 1992-93 (49) and Rick Martin's 44 in 1973-74 for most in team history.
SABRES AMONG LEAGUE-LEADERS (Sabres' league rankings before 12/28 games)
  • Buffalo Sabres: 8% PK% (5th), 47 PTS (T-6th), 21 W (T-8th)
  • Eichel: 163 S (2nd), 36 EVP (T-4th), 25 EVA (T-4th), 34 A (7th), 49 P (T-7th)
  • Reinhart: 20 EVA (T-10th)
  • Ristolainen: 25:35 TOI/GP (5th), 118 hits (5th)
  • Skinner: 3 OTG (T-1st), 20 EVG (2nd), 26 G (2nd), 6 GWG (T-2nd), plus-19 (T-8th)
BUF-BOS CONNECTIONSFormer Bruins:
  • Sabres D Matt Hunwick was selected by Boston in the seventh round (224th overall) of the 2004 NHL Draft. In four seasons with the Bruins (2007-2011), Hunwick skated in 164 games and recorded 56 points (13+43).
  • Sabres assistant coach Davis Payne spent parts of two seasons (1995-1997) playing for the Bruins. He skated in 22 games and notched one assist.
  • Sabres F Vladimir Sobotka was selected by Boston in the fourth round (106th overall) of the 2005 NHL Draft. He spent three seasons (2007-2010) with the club, appearing in 134 games and recording 22 points (6+16).
Former Sabres:
  • Bruins goaltending coach Bob Essensa spent the 2001-02 season with the Sabres. In nine games, he had an .850 save percentage and a 2.91 goals-against average.
  • Jaroslav Halak was a member of the Sabres for six days during the 2013-14 season. He was acquired from the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 28 before being dealt to the Washington Capitals on March 5 and did not appear in a game during his brief stint in Buffalo.
  • Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco held the same position for the Sabres during the 2013-14 season.
Sabres with Massachusetts Connections:
  • Sabres F Jack Eichel is a native of North Chelmsford, Massachusetts, and played college hockey at Boston University. In one year with the Terriers (2014-15), Eichel led all NCAA Division I skaters with 71 points (26+45) in 40 games and became the second freshman ever to win the Hobey Baker Award.
  • Sabres G Carter Hutton played four seasons (2006-2010) of college hockey at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Hutton finished his collegiate career as the school's all-time leader in goals-against average (2.33), save percentage (.913) and shutouts (10). He earned a spot on the 2010 Hockey East Second All-Star Team and was named the team's most valuable player.
  • Sabres F Evan Rodrigues played collegiate hockey at Boston University, posting 121 points (42+79) in 146 games with the Terriers. In 2015 he ranked second in the nation in assists (40) and points (61) and was named to the Hockey East Second All-Star Team.
  • Sabres F Conor Sheary hails from Winchester, Massachusetts. He played college hockey at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (2010-2014) and captained the team his senior year. He finished his collegiate career ranked seventh in UMass-Amherst history is assists (66), seventh in points (104) and 15th in goals (38).
Zach Bogosian:
  • Played for Team USA with Bruins F David Backes at the 2009 IIHF World Championship.
Jason Botterill:
  • Played with Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco in Atlanta.
Jack Eichel:
  • Played for Team USA with Bruins D Matt Grzelcyk at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship.
  • Won a bronze medal for Team USA with Bruins D Brandon Carlo at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Chris Hajt:
  • Played in Washington when Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco was the head coach of the Capitals.
Phil Housley:
  • Played with Bruins assistant coaches Kevin Dean and Jay Pandolfo in New Jersey.
  • Played with Bruins goaltending coach Bob Essensa in Winnipeg.
Matt Hunwick:
  • Played in Colorado when Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco was the head coach of the Avalanche.
Carter Hutton:
  • Played with Bruins F Joakim Nordstrom in Chicago.
Johan Larsson:
  • Won a gold medal for Team Sweden with Bruins F Joakim Nordstrom at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Kyle Okposo:
  • Played for the Islanders with Bruins G Jaroslav Halak and assistant coach Jay Pandolfo.
  • Played for Team USA with Bruins F David Backes at the 2009 IIHF World Championship.
Davis Payne:
  • Played in Boston with Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney.
  • Was the head coach of the St. Louis Blues when Bruins F David Backes and G Jaroslav Halak were playing for the team.
Jason Pominville:
  • Played for Team USA with Bruins F David Backes at the 2008 IIHF World Championship.
Sam Reinhart:
  • Won a gold medal for Team Canada with Bruins F Brad Marchand at the 2016 IIHF World Championship.
Rasmus Ristolainen:
  • Played for Team Finland with Bruins G Tuukka Rask at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Jeff Skinner:
  • Played with Bruins F Joakim Nordstrom in Carolina.
Steve Smith:
  • Was an assistant coach in Carolina when Bruins F Joakim Nordstrom was playing for the Hurricanes.
Vladimir Sobotka:
  • Played with Bruins F David Backes and G Jaroslav Halak in St. Louis.
  • Represented the Czech Republic with Bruins F David Krejci at the 2006 IIHF World Junior Championship.
  • Played for the Czech Republic National Team with Bruins F David Pastrnak at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey and again at the 2017 IIHF World Championship.
Tage Thompson:
  • Won a gold medal for Team USA with Bruins D Charlie McAvoy at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship. The duo won a bronze medal together the following year at the 2018 IIHF World Championship.
SABRES REAL-TIME STATS LEADERSHits: Ristolainen (118), Girgensons (62), Okposo (50)
Blocked Shots: Ristolainen (65), Bogosian (63), McCabe (52)
Shots: Eichel (163), Skinner (114), Ristolainen (98)
SABRES' RECORD IN 10 GAME SEGMENTS [W-L-OTL (PTS), GF/GA, PP, PK]1-10: 6-4-0 (12), 26/28, 8/38, 22/30
11-20: 6-2-2 (14), 35/27, 4/28, 26/29
21-30: 5-3-2 (12), 31/32, 5/28, 23/29
31-40: 4-3-1 (9), 21/21, 6/26, 22/23
OVERTIME RESULTS (5-4; 118-125 all-time)Oct. 27 at CBJ: L, 5-4 (GWG-Panarin, 0:31)
Oct. 30 vs. CGY: L, 2-1 (GWG-Gaudreau, 2:40)
Nov. 8 at MTL: W, 6-5 (GWG-Ristolainen, 1:38)Nov. 19 at PIT: W, 5-4 (GWG-Eichel, 0:45)Nov. 23 vs. MTL: W, 3-2 (GWG-Skinner, 3:06)Nov. 27 vs. SJS: W, 3-2 (GWG-Skinner, 1:41)Nov. 30 at FLA: L, 3-2 (GWG-Barkov, 2:26)
Dec. 4 vs. TOR: L, 4-3 (GWG-Matthews, 4:57)
Dec. 11 vs. LAK: W, 4-3 (GWG-Skinner, 1:49)
SHOOTOUT RESULTS (3-1; 73-67 all-time)Nov. 10 vs. VAN: W, 4-3 (GDG-Mittelstadt)Nov. 16 at WPG: W, 2-1 (GDG-Sheary)Nov. 24 at DET: W, 3-2 (GDG-Reinhart)Dec. 15 at WSH: L, 4-3 (GDG-Ovechkin)
MILESTONES APPROACHING (Player … Needs … Milestone)Games PlayedVladimir Sobotka … 2 games … 500 career games played
Johan Larsson … 10 games … 300 career games played
AssistsKyle Okposo … 5 assists … 300 career assists
Matt Hunwick … 8 assists … 100 career assists 
RECENT MILESTONESN/A


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