Buffalo enters Ohio on a five-game losing streak that's seen the Sabres lose despite scoring three goals each game; one of those games was a 4-3 shootout loss to Columbus a week ago. Buffalo's offense remains the league's worst by far – 92 goals in 49 games, good for fewer than two per game. But Tyler Ennis is on a six-game point streak, while Drew Stafford has three goals in his last three games.
Any help offensively will be needed against a Blue Jackets team that's allowed a meager 17 goals during its eight-game winning streak – seven of which were won by defending Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky, who's pitches a shutout and a one-goal game during the streak. Columbus hasn't scored fewer than three goals in any of those games, meanwhile, while scoring five or more goals four times.
"They've been great of late," Sabres center Cody Hodgson said. "They've got a lot of firepower, and just the way they play the game is fast. We have to eliminate that."
"Communication," Ennis said when asked after Thursday's loss to the Carolina Hurricanes what was going wrong defensively. "We need to communicate a little bit more, a little bit smarter."
Coach Ted Nolan spent practice Friday focusing on what he feels is a big part of the problem:
"If you look at golfers, they go to driving ranges. Baseball players go to batting cages … In hockey, we don't do the most fundamental thing that we should be able to do on a natural instinct, which is pass the puck. Every once in a while, you have to go back to school and just do the basic stuff."
Ennis missed Friday's practice but is expected to play Saturday. Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel has been called up, while Mark Pysyk was sent down to the Rochester Americans.
Bobrovsky missed nearly a month with a groin injury but has keyed the charge for Columbus, which has crawled into playoff position in the Metropolitan Division. Ryan Johansen leads the Jackets in points with 37 and in goals with 19. Six Jackets (Johansen, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, R.J. Umburger and Artem Anisimov) each have double-digit goals.
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