BY DAVID KOLB
BUFFALO SABRES (12-13-8) @ DETROIT RED WINGS (15-15-4)
Live game coverage begins at 7 PM on MSG-WNY
BATTLE IN THE ATLANTIC
Tonight the Sabres travel to Detroit to faceoff against the Red Wings at Joe Lewis Arena. This is the second of four games the clubs will play against each other this season, as the Red Wings defeated the Sabres 2-1 in a shootout on Nov. 23. The Sabres lost 5-1 to the New York Islanders on Friday, extending their winless streak to four games.
Buffalo is 0-2-2 in the last four games and scored just once in three of the contests. The Sabres begin the night tied for the fewest points in the Eastern Conference with the Islanders. One of the main reasons for the Sabres slide is that Jack Eichel has gone ice cold, and has been kept off the score sheet for the past five games.
MOTOR CITY INJURIES
The Sabres might catch a break tonight as Detroit has been hampered by the injury-bug as bad as any NHL club has endured in the month of December. Goalie Jimmy Howard is out four to six weeks with a MCL sprain, while center Darren Helm (dislocated left shoulder), left winger Justin Abdelkader (sprained right MCL), defenseman Mike Green (upper-body injury), defenseman Alexey Marchenko (shoulder) and forward Tyler Bertuzzi (high ankle sprain) remain out. Defenseman Brendan Smith (out since Nov. 26 with a sprained right MCL) could return tonight.
Buffalo was dealt an injury blow of their own today, as the team announced that forward Ryan O’Reilly underwent an appendectomy over the Christmas break and there is no timetable for his return. O’Reilly, who missed six games earlier this season with an oblique injury, has 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 27 games this season.
Sam Reinhart tallied an assist for the third straight game Friday vs. the Islanders, and now has four points during that stretch. At 21-years-old, Reinhart is beginning to mature as a player and has seven points (two goals, five assists) in 11 games in December.
SCORING WOES IN DETROIT
The Red Wings currently rank 26th in scoring. Captain Henrik Zetterberg leads his club in points (23), while Dylan Larkin leads all Red Wings with 10 goals in 34 games played. The Red Wings are 0-for-26 on the power play over their the last six games and 1-for-37 in 11 contests in December.