The NHL is set up with another great night of hockey throughout March 4. Ten games are up on the board throughout Thursday night. One of these matchups will be between the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Islanders. These two teams have had opposite starts to the season, but will both look for a big win. This game will drop the puck at around 7:00 PM Eastern time.
The Sabres have started out this season with a record of 6-11-3, which has them sitting in last place of the East Division. Buffalo has lost four games in a row and eight of their last ten. The Sabres have struggled throughout their last stretch of games. Buffalo will look to get going quickly in this one as they try to finally turn it around.
New York has put up a record of 12-6-4 to this point in the season, which has them in second place of the East Division. The Islanders have won back to back games and four of their last five. New York is looking to keep it going as they try to stay in the second seed in a tight East Division. The Islanders are only three points ahead of the fifth seed, so a win can help strengthen that lead.
These two teams are in opposite sides of the East, but I expect both teams to play a tight game on Thursday night. Buffalo is hungry for a win, while the Islanders are looking to keep their strong stretch up in this one. The Sabres are coming off a tight loss to the Rangers and will look to have a much better start in this one on Thursday.
The Sabres and the Islanders have met up three times so far this season. Buffalo hosted the first game on February 15. Victor Olofsson scored a goal for the Sabres on the night, but it was not enough. Josh Bailey had two assists. Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau all scored on the night. Semyon Varlamov finished with 20 saves on 21 shots as New York earned a 3-1 win.
The second game of the season series stayed in Buffalo on February 16. Carter Hutton stopped 21 of the 23 shots he faced, but once again the Sabres came up short. Anders Lee had two goals, while Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a goal and an assist. Josh Bailey had two assists on the night. Ilya Sorokin stopped all 20 shots he faced as the Islanders grabbed a 3-0 win.
The third game of the season series shifted to New York on February 22. Curtis Lazar and Sam Reinhart each had a goal, but Buffalo still could not break through. Anders Lee, Matt Martin and Jean-Gabriel Pageau all scored for the Islanders. Semyon Varlamov turned away 34 of 36 shots to lead the Islanders to a 3-2 win.
New York has been able to win all three games of the season series so far this season. The Islanders have scored three goals in all three games, while Buffalo had a total of three goals through three games. The Sabres need to get the offense going in this one. If Buffalo can score a couple in the first period, I think it will be enough to help give them the win.
Buffalo’s special teams have been strong so far this season. The Sabres have been able to capitalize on 19 of their 62 power play chances, which is a 30.7 percent success rate. Buffalo has given up 9 goals on their opponents 46 power play attempts, which is an 80.4 percent penalty kill. The Sabres will need to keep this up in this one if they want the win.
The Islanders have also been solid on both sides of their special teams to this point in the season. New York has scored 15 goals on 61 power play opportunities, which is a 24.6 percent power play. The Islanders have killed off 48 of the 58 penalties against them this season, which is an 82.8 percent kill rate. New York will look to keep these numbers up as well.
The Sabres have the edge on special teams so far this season. Buffalo has been slightly better on the power play so far this season, while New York has a slightly better penalty kill. Both teams will look to get some goals with the man advantage. If either team can come out hot in this one, it could be enough for the win.
Carter Hutton will likely get the start in the crease for the Sabres in this one. Hutton has earned a record of 5-4-2 throughout his starts this season. He has posted a .891 save percentage and a GAA of 3.18 in his games played. Hutton’s last start was against the New York Rangers, where he stopped 16 of the 19 shots in the losing effort.
I expect Semyon Varlamov to get the nod in the net for New York on Thursday night. Varlamov has started in 17 games this season, going 10-4-3 in those games. He has put up a save percentage of .927 and a 2.10 GAA. Varlamov finished with 28 saves on 29 shots in his last start against the New Jersey Devils, which was enough for the win.
The Islanders have the edge in net with Varlamov getting the start. Semyon Varlamov has been really strong so far this season. Carter Hutton has struggled in the early part of this season, but he will look to turn it around in this one. The Sabres need Hutton to step up with Linus Ullmark out for an extended period. If either goalie can come out hot in this one, it could give them the win.
The Sabres are coming into this one on a bit of a tough streak. Buffalo has struggled to get things going, but I think they can finally knock off New York. The Islanders have won the first three games against the Sabres, but eventually Buffalo will be able to grab a win. I think that the Sabres will have some motivation to start this series strong.
BetOnline has New York listed as a -181 against the money line in this one. This implies that the Islanders will win this game around 64.4 percent of the time. I think that New York deserves this line, but it is a bit high. The Sabres have not gotten going much since coming back from their COVID-19 pause, but I think they will look to switch things around in this one.