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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, February 6th (All times eastern)

Buffalo Sabres (32-17-7) at Columbus Blue Jackets (23-27-9), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The struggling Buffalo Sabres will try to get back in the win column tonight when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

The Sabres have lost three straight and seven of their last nine outings and are in danger of getting passed by Ottawa for first place in the Northeast Division. The hard-charging Senators, who play tonight in Toronto, are just one point behind Buffalo for the top spot in the division.

Buffalo was dealt a loss Friday night by visiting Carolina, which posted a 4-3 win over the Sabres thanks to Jussi Jokinen's goal with 3:17 remaining in the third period. The Sabres had gone ahead by a 3-2 score just under three minutes into the final stanza, but Carolina scored the game's final two goals.

Drew Stafford scored twice in a two-minute span in the third period, while Andrej Sekera had a goal and two helpers for the Sabres. Ryan Miller allowed four goals on 27 shots in defeat.

Despite losing its last five road games, Buffalo still has a respectable 14-10-2 record as the guest this season. The Sabres haven't had a road victory since pounding Phoenix by a 7-2 count on January 18.

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, will try to improve to 2-0 under interim head coach Claude Noel tonight. Noel took over for the fired Ken Hitchcock earlier this week and led Columbus to Thursday's home victory over Dallas. R.J. Umberger registered a goal and an assist to help the Blue Jackets notch the 2-1 win.

Anton Stralman also tallied for Columbus, which handed Hitchcock his walking papers on Wednesday -- just one day after the club was dealt a 5-1 loss in Colorado.

"It was rewarding to get the win," Noel said. "I thought our players were passionate about trying to help each other. Even when we had turnovers that created problems, they were really good."

Steve Mason turned aside 22-of-23 shots for Columbus, which has split its last eight games overall.

The Blue Jackets have won three of their last four on home ice and are playing the second test of a six-game homestand tonight. Columbus is 13-9-5 as the host this season.

Forward Derek Dorsett missed Thursday's game for Columbus with a hand injury and is questionable for tonight. In other injury news, the club placed Mike Commodore on injured reserve Friday and activated fellow defenseman Marc Methot.

Columbus pounded the Sabres, 6-1, in Buffalo last season and has taken three straight overall in the series. The Sabres are winless with two losses and a tie in three all-time trips to Nationwide Arena.

02/06 11:15:21 ET


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