It’s a matchup that’s been two weeks in the making.
The New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres will finally square off for the first time this season tonight at Key Bank Arena. The two sides were originally scheduled to play their first two games against one another earlier this month, but were postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the roster.
It’s been 14 days since Buffalo last played a game, while the Islanders enter tonight’s contest winners in three of their last four games and riding a six-game point streak. The Islanders snapped the Boston Bruins 10-game point streak on Saturday with a decisive win over them at the Nassau Coliseum.
Buffalo offers the Islanders a unique challenge tonight when they meet. The Sabres may not have played in two weeks, but they will be a rested squad. That shouldn’t change the way the Islanders approach the game, Matt Martin told reporters this afternoon.
“We have to come out with the same type of determination that we had against the Bruins,” Matt Martin said. “Play the same way that we have over the last six games now really. They’re a good hockey team. Whatever their circumstances are right now that’s not really our concern. Our concern is coming in here, winning a hockey game and we just have to approach it just like anything else.”
The Islanders will try to avoid what occurred a few weeks back against another team that had been impacted by COVID-19. The Islanders lost twice to the Washington Capitals during their five-game swing, even though Washington had been without several of their best players.
🎥 Barry Trotz Pregame Media Availability 🎥 pic.twitter.com/uLF01XJE2X
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 15, 2021
The Islanders lineup will look very similar to the one head coach Barry Trotz has utilized during the last few games. Though the door was left open for Anthony Beauvillier to return to the Islanders lineup in Buffalo tonight.
Trotz said that everyone was healthy for the Islanders, which included Beauvillier. “He can play, he’s able or close to able to play,” Trotz said.
Beauvillier hasn’t been in the Islanders lineup since Jan. 24 during the team’s loss to the New Jersey Devils.
Semyon Varlamov is expected to start in net for the Islanders tonight in Buffalo. If that does indeed occur then Ilya Sorokin is expected to get the start tomorrow night.
Winger Sam Reinhart did not skate this morning for Buffalo. Reinhart had been dealing with an upper-body injury, according to the Buffalo News. Ralph Krueger will be back behind the bench tonight after dealing with COVID-19.
New York Islanders Lineup (Projected)
Anders Lee — Mathew Barzal — Josh Bailey
Michael Dal Colle — Brock Nelson — Jordan Eberle
Leo Komarov — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Oliver Wahlstrom
Matt Martin — Casey Cizikas — Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech — Ryan Pulock
Nick Leddy — Scott Mayfield
Andy Greene — Noah Dobson
Buffalo Sabres Lineup (Projected)
Jeff Skinner — Jack Eichel — Victor Olofsson
Taylor Hall — Eric Staal — Sam Reinhart
Tobias Rieder — Cody Eakin — Kyle Okposo
Tage Thompson — Riley Sheahan — Steven Fogarty
Rasmus Dahlin — Colin Miller
Matt Irwin — Henri Jokiharju
Brandon Davidson — William Borgen
Jack Eichel leads the Buffalo Sabres in points (11) and assists (nine) through the first 10 games of the season. Victor Oloffson leads Buffalo in goals with four. … Tonight’s starter Linus Ullmark enters the game with a 3-1-2 record. He also has a 2.56 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. … Buffalos is 2-6-2 in their last 10 meetings with the Islanders. … The two sides are scheduled to meet six times over the Islanders’ next 12 games. … Mathew Barzal is riding a career-high eight-game point streak. It is the longest point streak for the Islanders since Josh Bailey went on a 10 game point streak in 2017. … Jordan Eberle and Barzal lead the Islanders in goal scoring with six each through 13 games.
How to Watch
Tonight’s game will air on NBCSN. On the radio dial, the game can be heard on 1050 AM ESPN, 88.7 FM WRHU and 103.9 FM LI News Radio.