Preview: NY Islanders (23-11-0) at Buffalo Sabres (13-19-3)

Game Preview: New York Islanders (23-11-0) at Buffalo Sabres (13-19-3), 7 p.m. (ET)

The sliding Buffalo Sabres will try to stop the bleeding and return to the win column when they host the New York Islanders in Saturday's battle at First Niagara Center.

After beginning the season with a 3-13-2 record, the Sabres responded with a 10-3-0 mark over their next 13 games. However, Buffalo has reverted to its losing ways of late, dropping four straight heading into the NHL's Christmas break.

Buffalo has yielded 20 goals during its current 0-3-1 skid and last played on Tuesday when it dropped a 6-3 decision in Detroit. The Sabres actually held several leads in the game, but the Red Wings pumped in five unanswered goals to end the contest.

Nicolas Deslauriers, Chris Stewart and Andre Benoit all lit the lamp for Buffalo, which led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-1 before Detroit's game-ending surge. Michal Neuvirth allowed all six goals on 39 shots in defeat.

The Sabres allowed the Red Wings to score four times on six chances with the man advantage.

"You're playing a good team like Detroit," Sabres head coach Ted Nolan said. "You have a lead, you take a bad penalty and woke them up. The rest is history."

Jhonas Enroth is expected to start in net tonight for the Sabres. He is 0-3 with a 2.73 goals against average in three career tilts against the Islanders.

New York also is hoping to rebound from a loss on Tuesday, when the Montreal Canadiens visited Nassau Coliseum and halted the Isles' four-game winning streak.

The Islanders grabbed an early 1-0 lead on Kyle Okposo's tally at 12:04 of the first, but that would be New York's only goal of the game. Andrei Markov tied the score early in the second and Brendan Gallagher gave Montreal the lead for good later in the period.

New York would outshoot the Habs by a 15-9 margin in the third, but the only goal of the period came when David Desharnais beat Isles backup goaltender Chad Johnson with 1:11 left in regulation.

Johnson made 18 saves for the Isles, who outshot Montreal 38-21.

"Yeah, it's frustrating. That's all I can really say," said Johnson.

Johnson will get the call again tonight since No. 1 goalie Jaroslav Halak was placed on injured reserve Saturday with a lower-body injury. Kevin Poulin was recalled from the American Hockey League on an emergency basis and will serve as the backup tonight.

Former Isles sniper Matt Moulson is expected to return tonight after missing the last three games due to illness. Moulson has faced his former club once since getting dealt to Buffalo last October, scoring two goals and adding an assist for Minnesota in a 6-0 rout at Nassau Coliseum on March 18.

This is the first of three scheduled meetings this season between the Isles and Sabres. New York has taken two straight and has earned a point in each of the last five meetings, going 3-0-2 against the Sabres during that stretch.

New York, which is 10-7-0 as the visiting team this season, is 5-1-1 in its last seven trips to Buffalo. The Sabres are 9-8-2 as the host.

 

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