It is far too early for the Buffalo Sabres to start thinking about the spring, but for a franchise that has missed the playoffs seven consecutive seasons a three-game winning streak and a 10-6-2 record is reason for optimism entering Friday's road contest against the Winnipeg Jets. Buffalo begins a three-game road trip that features back-to-back contests versus the Jets and Minnesota this weekend, but following Tuesday's 2-1 win over Tampa Bay the Sabres noted something feels different.
"I don't think we played our best game (Tuesday) night, but we found a way to win and that's what good teams do," Buffalo defenseman Zach Bogosian told reporters Wednesday. "We try not to dwell on the past, but maybe that one wouldn't have happened in the past." The Jets finally are playing at the level many expected of last season's Western Conference finalist as Winnipeg has won three in a row and eight of its past 11 games following Wednesday's 3-1 triumph over defending Stanley Cup champion Washington. Connor Hellebuyck was outstanding in winning his third consecutive start, making 27 saves against Washington's high-powered offense and holding Alex Ovechkin off the scoresheet. "(Wednesday) definitely was a big one for us," Winnipeg center Mark Scheifele told the media after the Jets improved to 8-2-1 at home this season.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, MSG Buffalo, TSN3 (Winnipeg)
ABOUT THE SABRES (10-6-2): Center Jeff Skinner scored his 13th goal of the season Tuesday and has seven tallies to go along with one assist in his past six games - moving within one point of 400 for his career. San Reinhart earned an assist on Skinner's goal, his sixth assist in his past five games as the Sabres improved to 9-0-0 when he registers at least one point. Carter Hutton stopped 29-of-30 shots on goal and in his past three appearances has posted a .946 save percentage.
ABOUT THE JETS (11-5-1): Forward Blake Wheeler extended his point streak to 11 games with an assist Wednesday, and has 18 assists with a plus-8 rating during that stretch. Winnipeg entered Thursday leading the NHL in power-play percentage (34 percent) and Scheifele's marker with the man advantage Wednesday gave him eight goals and 16 points in his past 10 games. The Jets have scored on the power play in 14 of their 17 games this season and 12 of their past 13 contests.
1. Winnipeg G Laurent Brossoit, who is 3-0-0 but has not played since Oct. 26, is expected to start Friday.
2. The Sabres early-season success will be tested with six games in the next nine days, including a visit to Pittsburgh on Monday after the weekend back-to-back.
3. Buffalo seeks its first four-game winning streak since Dec. 9-15, 2014.
PREDICTION: Jets 4, Sabres 3 Bet Now
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