Who: New Jersey Devils at Buffalo Sabres
When: 3:00 p.m. ET; Pregame show at 2:30 p.m. ET
Where: First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY
Media: TV - MSG+ (Channel listings); Radio - WFAN (660 AM or 101.9 FM)
Stats & Notes (via Devils PR)
- The Devils have won 7 of their last 13 games overall (7-5-1) and are 16-6-4 in their last 26 regular season contests dating back to 2011-12.
- The Devils have lost three straight games in regulation for the first time since February 24-27, 2012.
- New Jersey is 2-2-1 in matinee games this season.
- The Devils are 8-1-2 when scoring first this season; 2-5-2 when their opponent scores first.
- Ilya Kovalchuk will appear in his 800th career NHL game today. He scored 3g-1a-4pts in New Jersey’s last visit to Buffalo on February 14, 2012.
- Andrei Loktionov scored the Devils’ lone goal Thursday and has points in a career-high four straight games (2g-2a-3pts).
- Alexei Ponikarovsky has points in three straight games (2a).
Forwards Defense Goalie
Henrique-Loktionov-Kovalchuk Salvador-Zidlicky Hedberg
Inactives: Harrold, Volchenkov, Barch
Hey Mr. Carter: A big welcome back from Pete DeBoer to Ryan Carter, who will make his return to the lineup after missing almost two weeks with a concussion. Carter's absence coincided with the Devils' biggest skid of the season and eventually played a part in DeBoer going Edward Scissorhands on the Devils' forward lines. Will his return mean things go back to normal for New Jersey? Will the CBGB line come back together? Will the Devils finally score more than two goals in a game? All good questions -- but none are up to Carter, who will simply be asked to play a smart, disciplined game and help give the Devils some spark when their forecheck wanes.
God of Mischief (and offense): I really wanna start calling Andrei Loktionov "Lokti" -- is everyone else cool with that? Since being called up from Albany, he's arguably been the Devils' best offensive player outside of Kovy, who Lokti's been skating alongside for the past couple games. I wonder if DeBoer will move him back to the fourth line to start today's game as he tries to restore some normalcy to the Devils' lines -- or whether he'll say screw it and roll with the unconventional mashups he's tweaked and prodded over the past few games. Either way, you can bet Lokti will get at least two or three shifts with Kovy on his wing, if only because they've been the only ones producing legitimate, consistent offense for the past two games.
All I do is win, win, win: Or something like that. One win in two weeks does not a happy boy Pete make and you get the sense from DeBoer's postgame comments Thursday that he's starting to get a little frustrated with the losing. He's tried to remain patient, dropping all sorts of what I've started to call DeBoerisms, but you can see them turning shorter and sharper in tone. The Devils are playing a Sabres team that's won twice after struggling at first under new coach Ron Rolston, but it's a Sabres team that remains dangerous with the puck on their sticks. Thomas Vanek is one of the best in the league and the Sabres' top line with Vanek, Cody Hodgson and Jason Pominville must not be allowed to go end to end every time they're on the ice.