Buffalo Sabres vs New York Islanders 5/3/21 Game Preview

The Sabres will have the opportunity to win their first game against the Islanders tonight (0-6-0).

Leading Scorers:

Sam Reinhart (BUF) — 50 GP, 23G, 14A, 37 PTS

Mathew Barzal (NYI) — 51 GP, 15G, 26A, 51 PTS

Expected Lines: 

Sabres

Skinner – Reinhart – Olofsson

Asplund – Mittelstadt – Thompson

Bjork – Cozens – Ruotsalainen

Sheahan – Eakin – Caggiula

Samuelsson – Ristolainen

Dahlin – Jokiharju

Bryson – Borgen

Houser

Islanders

Komarov – Barzal – Eberle

Beauvillier – Nelson – Bailey

Palmieri – Pageau – Wahlstrom

Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck

Pelech – Pulock

Leddy – Mayfield

Greene – Dobson

Varloamov/Sorokin

Milestone Watch

  • Brock Nelson will be playing his 600th NHL game
  • Rasmus Ristolainen is five assists away from 200 in his NHL career

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen Out / Houser Sabres Debut

UPL joins Linus Ullmark and Carter Hutton on the injured list. His skate/foot got caught awkwardly on the left post at the end of the 2nd period on Saturday.

According to Buffalo News reporter Lance Lyskowski, Luukkonen injured his ankle on the play, putting his season for both Buffalo and Rochester in jeopordy. Depending on the severity, UPL may miss the extra week of games with the Amerks. Rochester’s Head Coach Seth Appert expect players to come down following the conclusion of the Sabres season on Saturday May 8. The Amerks will play four games starting Wednesday May 12 and ending Sunday May 16.

Michael Houser appears to be set to make his NHL debut tonight. Dustin Tokarski was absent from practice, meanwhile Linus Ullmark was on the ice and is expected to be tonight’s backup. Houser has played most of his career in the ECHL, playing 210 games while posting a career .915 S% and 2.47 GAA. Houser has two AHL games under his belt since the 2016-17 season.

Islanders coming off back to back shutouts

The Islanders played two games against the Rangers Thursday and Saturday, winning both games 4-0 and 3-0 respectively. In addition to their consecutive shutout streak, the Islanders clinched a playoff spot Saturday with their 3-0 win. Andrew Beauvillier has three goals in those two games along with Josh Bailey picking up four assists in the two consecutive shutouts.

While the presence of Anders Lee is missed, the Islanders have done well for themselves since their captain’s injury on March 12. If there is any time the Sabres have their best chance to beat the Islanders, it’s when they may take a period off knowing their team is headed to the playoffs. Do not count on that with Barry Trotz behind the bench and a plethora of veterans still in the lineup, but other than a mental lapse, the Islanders are heavily favored to win (Islanders are currently -290).

Mittelstadt on five game point streak

With two goals and four assists in his last five games, Casey Mittelstadt is officially on the longest point streak. In what appears like a breakout season for the 22 year old, Mittelstadt is up to 21 points in 37 games and is fourth on the Sabres in points. For reference, Taylor Hall has 19 points in the same amount of games.

The best part of the uptick in Mittelstadt’s play is the 5v5 point production. On the other hand, his powerplay production is not what would be expected with the increase in his usage on the man advantage.

He is getting more minutes (17:01 average) since Ralph left but his EV TOI has only increased 16% whereas his EV prediction has increased 52%. Meanwhile his PP TOI has increased 150% but PP production is up 12%

News/Notes: 

  • Cody Eakin returns to the lineup after sitting the last 7 games.
  • In 6 games against Buffalo, the Islanders have 24 goals for and 9 against.
  • With a loss tonight, the Sabres will lock in 31st place in the NHL.

Prediction:

One of the next two games the Sabres will squeak out a win. Going 0-8-0 against the Islanders this season is too tough too look at. With that said, I doubt it’s tonight with Eakin back in the lineup and a goaltender making their 1st NHL start. That’s not mentioned as a knock on Houser, it must be a fantastic day for him and his entire family. Hopefully the team in front of him puts on a good effort.

4-1 Islanders win.

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