Preview: Buffalo at Columbus
When: 7:00 PM ET, Friday, February 19, 2016
Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
An eight-game losing streak to open the season all but buried the Columbus Blue Jackets, who will look to extend their point streak to a season-high seven contests when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night. The Blue Jackets are 4-0-2 over the past six games and have only one regulation defeat in their last 10 contests (6-1-3).
Columbus is 23-21-7 under coach John Tortorella, who replaced Todd Richards after the team stumbled out of the gate with seven straight defeats. “We have a much better understanding,” Tortorella told the Columbus Dispatch. “It’s from me to them, too. I’m still trying to figure them out, and I still haven’t got it all done. but it’s come along.” The Sabres will welcome back forward Evander Kane, who was suspended for Tuesday’s loss at Ottawa for missing practice following a night of festivities at the NBA All-Star Game. “I have great optimism that it’s a lesson learned, to be quite frank,” Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma said. “It’s one he also has to start to show, continue to show that he has learned that lesson.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG (Buffalo), FSN Ohio (Columbus)
ABOUT THE SABRES (23-28-7): Kane picked a particularly bad time for his transgression – he was on a tear with five goals in his previous six games to boost his season total to 16. “It was tough to let those guys down the other day, but I’m going to make sure that I’m the best player I can possibly be for these guys,” said Kane, who apologized to his teammates. “That will start in Columbus moving forward here.” Rookie Jack Eichel, who scored his first career goal in a 4-2 victory over Columbus on Oct. 12, has points in three straight games.
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (23-28-7): The parents of rookie Joonas Korpisalo are flying in from Finland to see their son make his 11th consecutive start, the longest string for Columbus since Sergei Bobrovsky’s 11-game string at the end of the 2014-15 season. Korpisalo is 6-1-3 with a 2.14 goals-against average during that span, permitting two goals or fewer eight times. “He’s just playing,” Tortorella said. “He’s been impressive every night he’s out there, and it’s really helped our team, as far as playing off him and having confidence in our goalie.”
1. Buffalo has failed on 13 straight power-play chances over the past four games.
2. Blue Jackets forward Scott Hartnell has 30 points in 36 games versus Buffalo, including a goal in the early-season loss.
3. Sabres C Daniel Catenacci, who has missed the past three games due to a concussion, was back at practice Thursday.
PREDICTION: Blue Jackets 4, Sabres 2