The Buffalo Sabres’ roller-coaster season is at another high point and they’ll look to continue the momentum when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.
The Sabres have won three straight and are 5-1-0 in their last six games, including Sunday’s 7-4 home victory over the Washington Capitals. The team’s latest hot stretch comes on the heels of an 0-3-1 slump, which followed a five-game winning streak.
The Sabres have been far from consistent this season, but they hope to be rounding into form for the postseason push. The Sabres enter Monday’s action one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second Eastern Conference wild-card slot.
Dylan Cozens led the way with a hat trick and an assist against the Capitals, and Tage Thompson again found the scoresheet with his 40th goal of the season. Thompson became the 13th player in Sabres’ history to deliver a 40-goal campaign.
After scoring 38 times last season, Thompson said the 40-goal plateau was “something that I wanted to see if I could get this year.”
“It’s kind of one of those things now, I guess, where you reach it and now you change your goal, and now it’s a little further ahead and try to chase that one now,” Thompson added.
The Blue Jackets are very familiar with Thompson’s scoring touch, as the forward had five goals and an assist in Buffalo’s 9-4 rout of the Jackets in Columbus on Dec. 7.
The Sabres have continued to sit among the league’s highest-scoring teams, while Columbus has allowed more goals (222) and more shots (3,136) than almost any other club in the NHL.
The Jackets missed a chance at victory on Sunday, as their 2-0 lead through two periods over the Minnesota Wild was almost single-handedly erased by Kirill Kaprizov. The star forward scored the game’s next three goals in the Wild’s 3-2 overtime win.
With the Blue Jackets coming off a 6-5 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on the previous night, Columbus coach Brad Larsen felt his team “just ran out of gas” against Minnesota.
“I thought the first half of the game we were real sharp,” Larsen said. “We needed more guys tonight to be on their game, and we had a few guys that just weren’t locked in and it cost us tonight.”
With the NHL’s trade deadline looming Friday, the last-place Blue Jackets are expected to be prominent sellers.
Defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov hasn’t played in any of the Jackets’ last seven games, since the team is reportedly waiting for a trade suitor to clear roster space with another move before Gavrikov is officially dealt.
Joonas Korpisalo’s name has also been mentioned in trade rumors, as the goalie is an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins have been sharing starting duties lately, and the Blue Jackets might opt to give Korpisalo another start Tuesday in Columbus’ final game prior to the trade deadline.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has gotten the majority of the Sabres’ recent starts in net, and he stopped 26 of 30 shots against Washington. However, with Buffalo’s three-goalie mix, Eric Comrie or Craig Anderson are also candidates for Tuesday’s game.
–Field Level Media