SABRES (16-17-6) at JETS (19-19-2)
TV: MSG-B, TSN-JETS
Last 10: Buffalo 6-2-2, Winnipeg 3-7-0
Season Series: This is the second of three meetings, and the only one at MTS Centre. The initial showdown, a 2-1 Jets’ win on Feb. 19, was Winnipeg's fourth in a row against Buffalo.
Big Story: A three-game winning streak has perked up hopes in Buffalo, while the Jets staved off a potentially season-breaking five-game slide with a 4-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. Both are well-positioned to pounce should any of the current playoff teams slip up, as the Jets play the second of six games at home, only two points behind the Capitals for the Southeast Division lead. The Sabres were four points out of eighth place entering Monday's action and make the short stopover in Winnipeg before returning home for three tough games versus Montreal, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.
Sabres: Whatever the front office master plan is, rebuilding is not foremost in the minds of the Sabres’ players. Winning is, and making the playoffs as a result. They've won three in a row since the team shipped out Jason Pominville, Robyn Regehr and Jordan Leopold, and aren't giving up yet.
“Our main focus is still to win,” forward Nathan Gerbe, who scored the shootout winner in the Sabres' 3-2 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday, told the Buffalo News. “Obviously, we’re not cashing in this season. We’re within reach of playoffs. We know that as a group, and we have guys here that can get it done.
“The organization itself wants to turn around. It doesn’t mean we can’t win. It doesn’t mean they don’t want us to win. Teams aren’t going to take us lightly because we’re turning things around. We’ve still got guys in here that want to win and obviously make the playoffs.”
Jets: Every team this season has had to deal with limits on practice time due to the compressed 48-game schedule, but the Jets managed to squeeze in a full 55-minute session Monday morning.
"We haven’t practiced in … I can’t remember the last time we had a practice," coach Claude Noel told the Winnipeg Free Press. "Today we worked on some things we hadn’t worked on in a long, long time. Just rush attacks and D-zone coverage and stuff. It gives you an opportunity to do some things and to get better with a lot of different things. It’s good to get back to that and as we’re moving forward through the month it’s going to continue like that."
Who's hot: Steve Ott has a three-game goal-scoring streak going for the Sabres. … Jets captain Andrew Ladd has gone 13 games without a goal, but has one in each of his past three games versus the Sabres. Ondrej Pavelec, righted himself with a solid performance on Sunday, but he has also allowed only one goal in each of the Jets' four consecutive wins against Buffalo.
Injury report: Thomas Vanek (upper body) has been out for six games so far and remains questionable for Tuesday. … Jets forward Nik Antropov (lower body) is out at least another week. Forwards James Wright (upper body), Jim Slater (hand) and Anthony Peluso (hand) remain on injured reserve.
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