Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the St. Louis Blues hosting the Buffalo Sabres at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:
• STL is coming off its first loss in its last eight games – a 2-1 loss vs. NSH on Saturday, which allowed the Predators to pass the Blues for first place in the Central Division.
• Prior to that loss, the Blues’ 7-game winning streak tied Anaheim‟s 7-game winning streak (Oct. 11-24) for the longest stretch of wins in the NHL this season.
• RW Vladimir Tarasenko, who leads the Blues with 17 points (9G-8A), had 8G-3A during that 7-game winning streak, in addition to the shootout winner vs. NYR on Nov. 3. Heading into tonight, the 22-year-old Yaroslavl, Russia, native has 5G-3A during his current 5-game point streak – which matches a career-high (fourth time).
• G Jake Allen won all three of his starts during the win streak (ANA, STL, NJ).
• After losing the highest-paid unrestricted free agent goaltender in Ryan Miller (paid $6.25 million last season) in the offseason, STL chose to go with the goaltending tandem of Brian Elliott ($2.3 million this season) and Jake Allen ($850,000). The pair has been a surprising bright spot, combining for 9 wins and 3 shutouts.
• STL is allowing just 1.93 goals/game (T-3rd best in NHL).
• Elliott, who is expected to start tonight, is 5-3-1 with a 2.06 GAA and .923 SV% this season.
• Elliott has a “Mr. Moose” character featured on the back of his regular goaltending mask as a tribute to Owen Scott, who died in 2005. Scott was a family friend and a champion moose caller. But tonight, Elliott will wear a special Veterans Day-themed mask delivered to him by 92-year-old WWII veteran and St. Louis resident Charles Rohde. As a technical sergeant in the U.S. Army, Rohde saved ammunition and records from a burning truck on D-Day in Normandy.
• BUF, the worst team in the NHL, has scored the fewest goals in the league this season (18), while allowing the most (53). The Sabres have just one non-shootout victory this season, a 2-1 win over the Sharks on Oct. 25.
• BUF is averaging an NHL-worst 1.12 goals/game and has only scored more than 2 goals in a game once this season – a 4-3 (SO) victory over CAR on Oct. 14.
• The Sabres are an NHL-worst 2-for-50 (4%) on the power play this season. Per Elias, the 2 power-play goals are the fewest BUF has ever scored through its first 16 games of a season.
• BUF head coach Ted Nolan: “There‟s no one on a big, white horse that is going to come and save us. We have to somehow get the message. If we want good things, we‟ve got to work for it.”
• STL leads all-time series 52-45-13-0 (W-L-T-OL).
• STLwon both meetings last season by 2-1 and 4-1 margins.
• STL has won 4 straight against BUF and is 14-2-0 in their last 16 meetings. In those 16 meetings, the Blues have scored 3 or more goals 13 times.
• STL will wear special camouflage jerseys during warmups tonight that will be signed by players and auctioned and raffled off in honor of Veterans Day.
• BUF: D Josh Gorges has blocked an NHL-best 58 shots, 11 more than any other player.
• STL: The Blues are 6-2-1 in one-goal games this season.
• BUF: Marcus Foligno (upper-body) is day-to-day. He has been given the “green light” and is expected to play tonight.
• STL: RW T.J. Oshie (concussion) is “nowhere near” a return and is not expected to play tonight.
• BUF: RW Chris Stewart: 8G-7A in 9 career GP vs. STL (all with COL).
• BUF: RW Drew Stafford: Despite being the Sabres‟ leading scorer this season and the longest-tenured player on the team, he has 0 points in 4 career GP vs. STL.
• STL: G Brian Elliott: 10-0-2, 1.74 GAA, .941 SV% in 12 career GP vs. BUF.
• STL: C Paul Stastny: 6 points in 5 career GP vs. BUF.
BUFFALO TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
• RW Drew Stafford, the longest-tenured Sabre, leads BUF with 8 points (3G-5A). When Stafford was 21 and starting his career, the Sabres were a Presidents‟ Trophy team (2006-07 season). But now, at age 29, he‟s in the final year of his contract with a franchise that finished with its worst record in 42 years last season.
• In Monday‟s practice, Stafford, having spent his entire career with the Sabres on the wing, was moved to center. Head coach Ted Nolan said Stafford approached him with the idea to move back to a position he hasn‟t played at much since high school. “We‟re trying anything at this point, so we‟ll give it a shot and see how it goes,” Stafford said.
• RW Brian Gionta has 3 assists through 16 games, but has yet to score a goal in his first season with BUF. Gionta scored 20+ goals seven times in his 12 seasons with MTL/NJ.
• LW Marcus Foligno, one of four Sabres with multiple goals (2) this season, has been given the “green light” and is expected to return tonight after missing the last five games with an upper-body injury.
• BUF has the fewest players (4) with multiple goals this season. FLA has the second fewest (5).
• G Michal Neuvirth, who is 2-4-1, with a 2.66 GAA and .929 SV% is expected to make the start tonight.
• Neuvirth is from the Czech Republic, where former Sabres goaltender Dominik Hasek is a hero for leading the country to the 1998 Olympic gold medal. Neuvirth has included a painting of Hasek, along with an old Sabres logo, on the side of his goaltending mask.
BLUES TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
• The line of RW Vladimir Tarasenko, C Jori Lehtera and LW Jaden Schwartz has combined for 17 points in the last 5 games. But after losing to NSH on Saturday, head coach Ken Hitchcock said: “Quite frankly, we’re sitting on one line doing everything for us right now. We’re going to need a lot more from people if we expect to be good in (the Central Division).”
• Lehtera, who previously played with Tarasenko at Sibir Novosibirsk in the KHL, has 3G-8A in his first NHL season.
• Captain C David Backes, a two-time U.S. Olympian, returned to the lineup on Nov. 1 vs. COL after missing one game with a concussion. He was third on STL with 57 points last season, but has just 3G-3A so far this season in 13 games, putting him seventh on the team with 6 points.
• RW T.J. Oshie is expected to remain out this week after suffering a concussion vs. DAL on Oct. 30. He has 1 assist in 8 games this season, one in which he‟s helping raise his 8-month-old daughter and care for his father with Alzheimer‟s off the ice.
• Oshie became a worldwide star last February at the Sochi 2014 Games, converting 4 of 6 shootout attempts vs. Russia to give the U.S. a 3-2 victory in the preliminary round. He is 27-for-49 (55.1%) in shootouts in six-plus seasons with STL, including an NHL-leading 9 shootout goals last season. He is 0-for-1 on shootout attempts this season.
• C Paul Stastny, activated from the injured reserve last week after missing 8 games with a shoulder injury, has 1G-3A in six games in his first season with the Blues. Stastny signed a 4-year/$28 million deal with STL in July.