BY: DAVID KOLB
BUFFALO SABRES (12-12-8) @ NEW YORK ISLANDERS (12-14-6)
NY STATE BATTLE
The Islanders and Sabres play for the second time in eight days on tonight, as the Sabres won the last meeting in Buffalo, 3-2 in overtime on Dec. 16. The Islanders will try and make it two in a row tonight after doubling-up the Boston Bruins 4-2 on Tuesday, while the Sabres hope to shake off a three-game skid, including last night’s 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Islanders have already faced former Isles’ winger Kyle Okposo in Buffalo, however, tonight he will play in front of Islanders fans for the first time since switching clubs as a free agent this past summer. Okposo played nine years and 529 games with the Islanders and has 22 points in 30 games in his first season with the Sabres.
LEE STAYS HOT
26-year-old forward Anders Lee stayed red-hot Tuesday, scoring twice and adding an assist, while earning a plus-2 rating in the Isle’s 4-2 win vs. the Bruins. Lee now has four goals in his past four games and seven goals with three assists in 10 games in December.
Jack Eichel has now gone four games without registering a point and Thursday against Carolina was pulled from the Sabres power play unit, as Matt Moulson got the extra power play time. Eichel has only skated in 11 games this season and takes the ice tonight with five goals and three assists for eight points.
GIO CALLED UP
Stephen Gionta was officially signed by the Isles Wednesday to a one-year, two-way contract and was then recalled from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL). Gionta will help fill in for Casey Cizikas (upper body) and practiced Thursday with on a line with Cal Clutterbuck and Nikolay Kulemin.