Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#55 Winnipeg Jets 6 vs.
#56 Buffalo Sabres -110
Sunday, February 23, 2020 at 3:05pm EST
KeyBank Center, Buffalo
Written by Chris Kubala

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It’s an interconference matchup on the ice between a pair of teams playing their second game in as many nights in Western New York. The Winnipeg Jets are on the road as they make the trip to face the Buffalo Sabres Sunday afternoon. Winnipeg was knocked off 4-2 on the road by Philadelphia in their previous contest. Buffalo cruised to a 5-2 road victory over Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon in their previous contest. The teams split the last 10 meetings between the teams with the Jets taking a 3-1 home win in the most recent matchup on February 10, 2019.

Winnipeg Jets Look to Bounce Back

Winnipeg saw their three-game win streak come to an end as they were dropped on the road by Philadelphia Saturday afternoon. The Jets entered Saturday night fourth in the Central Division, seven points behind Dallas for the final guaranteed playoff spot, and 11 points behind the Blues for the division lead. In the wild card picture, the Jets entered Saturday’s action holding the top wild card spot. Winnipeg is inconsistent on the offensive end of the ice as they average 3.02 goals per contest. The Jets are an average team defensively as they are allowing 2.97 goals per game this season. Winnipeg is average on the power play as they convert 20.3 percent of their chances with the man advantage on the year. The Jets are dismal in penalty killing as they successfully navigate only 76.3 percent of their shorthanded situations this season.

Against the Flyers, the Jets were unable to get their offensive attack going as they were held in check on the road. Winnipeg was outshot 12-10 in the opening period and trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes of play. In the second period, the Jets held a 15-4 edge in shots with each team scoring once, leaving them down 3-1 after 40 minutes of play. After falling behind 3-0, Josh Morrissey got the Jets on the board with his fifth of the year at 18:04 off assists from Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers. The final period saw Winnipeg with a 14-4 edge in shots on goal with each team scoring once, leaving them short on the scoreboard. Patrik Laine got the Jets within a goal with his 26th of the year, on the power play, at the 3:00 mark off assists from Neal Pionk and Blake Wheeler. That was as close as Winnipeg would get as they gave up a goal later in the period to close the scoring. Connor Hellebuyck made 26 saves for the Jets, who were outshot 30-29, in the loss. Laurent Brossoit is expected to get the call in net here.

Buffalo Sabres Trying to Close Gap in Playoff Race

Buffalo earned their fourth win in their last five games as they jumped all over Pittsburgh early and coasted to the win. The Sabres entered Saturday night tied for fifth in the Atlantic Division, eight points behind Toronto for the final guaranteed playoff spot and 26 points back of the Bruins for the top spot. In the wild card picture, the Sabres were nine points behind the Blue Jackets for the second wild card spot. Buffalo is a below average team offensively as they average 2.90 goals per game so far this season. The Sabres are mediocre in their own end as they allow 3.13 goals per contest this year. Buffalo’s power play has been below average this season as the team cashes in 19.7 percent of their chances with the man advantage. The Sabres are struggling in penalty killing as they successfully navigate 74.3 percent of their shorthanded situations thus far.

Against the Penguins, the Sabres started fast and rolled on to a victory on the road. Buffalo was outshot 12-10 in the opening period but skated off with a 3-0 advantage on the scoreboard. Zemgus Girgensons opened the scoring with his 11th of the year 14 seconds into the game off an assist from Kyle Okposo. Sam Reinhart made it a 2-0 game with his 22nd of the year, unassisted, at 6:48 of the stanza. Jack Eichel made it a 3-0 game with his 34th of the year, on the power play, at 10:51 off assists from Rasmus Ristolainen and Reinhart. In the second period, Buffalo was outshot 13-11 and outscored 1-0 to see their lead trimmed to 3-1 after two periods. In the final period, the Sabres were outshot 18-5 but held a 2-1 edge on the scoreboard to earn the win. Jeff Skinner scored his 12th of the year at 5:39 off assists from Marcus Johansson and Michael Frolik to make it a 4-1 game. Eichel gave Buffalo a 5-1 lead with his second of the game, and 35th of the year, on the power play at 12:17 off assists from Rasmus Dahlin and Ristolainen. The team gave up a goal to close the scoring but earned the win. Carter Hutton made 41 saves in the win as Buffalo was outshot 43-26. Jonas Johansson is expected to get the start in goal in this one.

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Winnipeg has played better offensively on the road than they have at home this season. The Jets are still in the thick of a crowded playoff picture and that means taking care of business against subpar teams. Buffalo is expected to start Johansson, who hasn’t seen much work yet in net. He’s only up since Linus Ullmark is still out with an injury, forcing Hutton into #1 goaltending duities. The Sabres are too inconsistent offensively to reliably count on in this contest. Give the Jets the upper hand in this contest as they bounce back from their loss Saturday.

Prediction: Winnipeg Jets -120

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Winnipeg enters this game with a 16-12-2 road record on the year. The Jets hold a +3 goal differential (96-93) and a -144 shot differential (1,017-873) in those games this season. That gives the Jets a 6.30 goal per game average on the road this season. Buffalo is 18-10-4 on home ice this year. The Sabres hold a +10 goal differential (102-92) and a -13 shot differential (943-930) on the year. Buffalo owns an average of 6.06 goals per game on home ice this season. This one is going to be a lower-scoring game with both teams playing the second game of a back to back. Look for the under to come in here.

Prediction: Under 6

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Winnipeg has been a true three-outcome team on the road this season early on in games. The Jets have led 10 times after one period on the road on the year. Winnipeg has been even 10 times and trailed 10 times after 20 minutes as the visiting team on the year. Buffalo has held the lead only seven times after one period at home this season. By comparison, the Sabres have trailed 15 times at home after the opening period and have been tied on 10 occasions on the year. Give the Jets the upper hand, especially against an inexperienced goaltender in Johansson.

Prediction: 1st Period Winnipeg Jets
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Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.