Blue Jackets-Sabres Preview


The potential return of No. 1 goaltender Ryan Miller should instill some confidence in the struggling Buffalo Sabres.

Unfortunately, he won't be able to do much to improve the league's worst offense.

With Miller likely to return, the Sabres aim to notch their elusive first win Thursday night when the well-rested Columbus Blue Jackets visit.

After opening the season with three consecutive losses and scoring two goals in those games, Buffalo doubled its output in a 3-2 overtime loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday. The Sabres (0-3-1) earned their first point and avoided becoming only the 15th NHL team to open a season with three or fewer goals through four games.

Both goals came on the power play after Buffalo began the season 0 for 13 with the man advantage.

"We were able to get some more pucks through," coach Ron Rolston said. "I thought we had some more plays at the net and around the net. I think whenever that happens, you're going to have some success."

Jhonas Enroth made 32 saves in his second consecutive start but could give way to Miller on Thursday.

Miller did not dress Saturday against Pittsburgh and served as Enroth's backup Tuesday while nursing a lower-body injury. Miller, though, was a full participant in practice Wednesday and Rolston said he is healthy and available to play against Columbus.

"I knew it was pretty minor. I was just being cautious," Miller told the team's official website. "Jhonas was going to play in Pittsburgh anyways so I just took that opportunity to rest completely and guarantee some rest."

Miller, who has stopped 77 of 80 shots in his first two games, has a 2.12 goals-against average in five starts against the Blue Jackets (1-1-0).

Buffalo hasn't gone this long without a win to start a season since opening 0-5-0 with two ties in 1999-2000.

One of the many players Rolston hopes to see more from is second-year center Mikhail Grigorenko, the 12th overall pick in the 2012 draft. The 19-year-old has no points this season and one goal in 29 NHL games.

Rolston reiterated an earlier comment that Grigorenko's compete level was getting closer to where the coaching staff would like it to be.

"It's getting there, but it needs to continue to improve, I think," he said. "That's that last hurdle for him and that's something that he's got to work on."

This will be the first game for Columbus since a 3-2 shootout victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday after a season-opening 4-3 loss to Calgary a night earlier.

Mark Letestu and Nick Foligno scored 4:19 apart in the third period as the Blue Jackets erased a two-goal deficit before Cam Atkinson's goal in the fourth round of the shootout sealed the win.

"We pull for each other," Foligno said. "We played hard, the way we expect to play every night. We were rewarded for it. We kept pressing and wound up with a great result."

Sergei Bobrovsky figures to be back in net after stopping 28 shots through overtime and three of four shootout attempts Saturday.

This will be the teams' first meeting since the Blue Jackets' 5-1 home victory Nov. 25, 2011, ended a three-game losing streak in the series.