Before we get into this game preview. Today, 1/7/12 we have a small one unit NHL pick pending, Ottawa Senators +150.
At this point last year, the Winnipeg Jets,then known as the Atlanta Thrashers,were in contention for the Southeast Division title before a rough stretch ruined their season.
If the Jets don’t improve their play on the road, that scenario could repeat itself.
Winnipeg looks to end a four game road losing streak to the Buffalo Sabres when the teams meet Saturday night.
The then Thrashers were three points out of first place Jan. 7, 2011, but that was the closest they would get for the remainder of the season. They went 3-11-5 over their next 19 games – including 1-6-2 on the road – and wound up finishing fourth in the Southeast, 27 points behind first-place Washington.
The Jets (19-16-5) currently are five points behind division leading Florida but have lost the first two games of their four game road trip, 7-3 to Montreal on Wednesday and 4-0 to Toronto the following night.
Winnipeg dropped to 5-10-4 away from home, compared with a 14-6-1 mark on its own ice.
The Jets blew four separate leads in their last visit to Buffalo on Nov. 8, eventually falling 6-5 in overtime when Thomas Vanek scored with 25 seconds remaining.
That defeat dropped the Winnipeg franchise is 0-2-2 in its last four road games against the Sabres, who have earned at least one point in seven of their last eight home games, going 4-1-3 at First Niagara Center in the past month.
Buffalo, though, has struggled overall of late due to its own road struggles. The Sabres (18-18-4) have dropped seven of their last nine, with six of those losses coming on the road including a 4-2 defeat Friday at Carolina.
Jason Pominville, who had a goal and two assists in the first meeting with Winnipeg, had a goal and an assist against the Hurricanes.
The Sabres put 33 shots on net, but only converted a pair of them.
Ryan Miller made 31 saves, but he’s allowed at least three goals in nine of his last 10 starts, going 3-5-1 with a 3.40 goals-against average in that span.
Miller, 12-2-5 with a 2.62 lifetime GAA lifetime versus the Winnipeg franchise, allowed five goals in the November win over the Jets.
Ondrej Pavelec will be in net for Winnipeg after receiving the night off Thursday. He faced 45 shots in the first meeting with the Sabres as he dropped to 0-2-2 with a 4.35 GAA in four career starts versus Buffalo.
Bryan Little scored twice for the Jets in the first meeting, but it’s unclear if he’ll play Saturday. He’s missed the last eight games nursing a foot injury, though Noel said he could return at some point during the road trip.
Winnipeg Jets – Ondrej Pavelec
Buffalo Sabres – Ryan Miller
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