BUFFALO (LGS) — The Columbus Blue Jackets enter their sixth contest of the season as a tale of two teams. At home they are nearly unflappable, collecting five out of a possible six points. However on the road, they are "oh-for."
The Buffalo Sabres will look to take advantage of that Friday night as the two teams square off in a 7:30 p.m. game at HSBC Arena.
It is the first time the two squads will meet in Buffalo for a regular season game since March 2004.
Buffalo (3-2) is coming off of a dramatic 5-4 overtime victory on Monday night over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The team needed four third period goals to force the extra session before capping the game with Bryan McCabe's own-goal with just 3.7 seconds remaining.
Paul Gaustad was credited with the OT winner while Jason Pominville, Jochen Hecht, Thomas Vanek and Adam Mair also lit the lamp for Buffalo, who extended their winning streak to three games after losing their first two to the New York Islanders.
One cause for the resurgence has been the power play unit. However, one major portion of their success is sidelined with an injury.
Defenseman Jaroslav Spacek was hit heavily into the boards during the third period of Monday's contest and left the game with a shoulder injury. He is not expected to play in either Sabres contest this weekend.
"(Spacek's) sore," coach Lindy Ruff said. "He's going to be out for the weekend and then we'll just evaluate it on a day-to-day basis after that."
Andrej Sekera was recalled late Wednesday night from Rochester and he will play in place of the injured Spacek.
Monday's contest also saw the Sabres debut of backup goaltender Jocelyn Thibault. Starting in place of Ryan Miller who was returning from his cousin's memorial service, Thibault stopped 21 shots for the victory.
Columbus (2-2-1) is coming off a shootout defeat to Dallas at home on Wednesday. Rick Nash and Jiri Novotny, a name familiar to Sabres fans, scored for the Blue Jackets in the defeat.
"It's really unacceptable," Nash said. "Good teams can finish those games and win those games no problem. We really have to learn to protect a lead, especially at home."
The Blue Jackets will likely be missing their second-leading goal scorer from a year ago as Frederick Modin is nursing a groin injury. He was a scratch for Wednesday's match with Dallas.
Buffalo is concluding a four game home stretch that saw them play five of their first six games at home this season. However, after the conclusion of Friday's game, the team will embark on a five-game road trip beginning Saturday night in Montreal.
Following the weekend, Buffalo visits Carolina and Florida before closing out October in Tampa Bay. They will finish their road trip Nov. 1 in Boston.
LGS Fun Fact of the Game
Welland-native Daniel Paille was looked upon as a player needing to step up his game with the departures of Daniel Briere and Chris Drury. So far, he has. Paille has recorded five points in five games, tying him with Jason Pominville for fifth in team scoring. More amazing is that Paille is doing so while averaging just 9:34 of ice time per game.