UNIONDALE -- The Sabres face a red-hot team tonight in the New York Islanders but for once, Buffalo was the team sitting in a city waiting for their opponent to show up. The Islanders posted a 2-1 overtime win last night in Ottawa but between the long ride to the airport there and customs and the flight home, they probably weren't in their beds until the 2 a.m. range.
One school of thought after today's pregame skate is a quick jump on the Islanders is rarely as important as it will be tonight.
"It's important if we get the puck down low below the goal line and really spend the majority of the first period there, or at least the first 10 minutes maybe," said coach Lindy Ruff. "Sometimes a team gets a little bit stuck in back-to-back games."
The Islanders (21-22-7) will be gunning to get to .500 tonight while the Sabres can move ahead of them with a regulation win. Buffalo can be anywhere from 11th to 15th in the East after tonight's play.
The Islanders are 6-1 in their last seven against the Sabres. They're 5-1-1 in their last seven overall this season and 10-5-1 in the last 16. And their top line of John Tavares centering Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo has been one of the hottest in the league.
Tavares was named the NHL's First Star for January after leading the league with 22 points in the month. In his last 16 games, he has 11 goals and 15 assists.
"They play very well together," said Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers. "Tavares has proven he's a pretty special player in this league. Especially as of late, he's been unbelievable for them."
"They're a tough line to control and Tavares is becoming one of the premier younger players in the league,'" Ruff said. "His stats are really going up (53 points in 50 games), his skating has been excellent and they've got some good chemistry."
Ryan Miller will start in goal. Ruff said the Sabres will dress all the forwards for the warmup, although Zack Kassian was the extra this morning and would be the best bet to join Marc-Andre Gragnani as a scratch.