BLUE JACKETS (1-1-0) at SABRES (0-3-1)
TV: FS-O, MSG-B
Season Series: This is the first of three meetings between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Buffalo Sabres, who will host two of those matchups this season at First Niagara Center. Both teams should be fairly familiar with one another, as they faced off twice during the preseason, with Buffalo winning both meetings.
Big Story: The Sabres are still searching for their first win of the season, but there are reasons for optimism. All but one of their four games so far has been decided by a single goal, although their 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday was especially frustrating. The Blue Jackets topped the New York Islanders 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday and are playing their second game in a stretch in which they'll play four of five on the road.
Blue Jackets: Now that his team has officially switched from the Western to the Eastern Conference, Columbus coach Todd Richards isn't looking to alter his game plan.
"[Our approach] is not going to change," Richards told the Columbus Dispatch. "We'll get into certain things, the differences between a Buffalo and a Boston and how they play. But how we play is not going to change. We want to be an aggressive forechecking team, and we want to be tough to play against."
If they want to be tougher to play against, the Blue Jackets can start by taking the lead in a game. In two games this season, Columbus still has yet to lead. They played from behind most of the night in their season-opening 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames and had to come back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Islanders in the shootout.
Sabres: The best news this week is Ryan Miller's return to the ice Wednesday after Buffalo's star goaltender didn't dress for the team's 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday before serving as a backup Tuesday against the Lightning. Wednesday was his first full practice since sustaining a lower-body injury in a 1-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Friday. Coach Ron Rolston says Miller is ready and available to play Thursday.
"I knew it was pretty minor. I was just being cautious. Jhonas [Enroth] was going to play in Pittsburgh anyways so I just took that opportunity to rest," Miller told the Sabres' website. "It just lingered a little longer and I wanted to make sure I clear up any issues because if you don't take care of it the right way it turns into weeks. Hopefully I get back in the rhythm where I was at and I'll go again."
Who's hot: Brandon Dubinsky has a point in each of the Blue Jackets' games while Mark Letestu scored a power-play tally against the Islanders before earning a shootout goal that put his team ahead. … For the Sabres, both Cody Hodgson and Thomas Vanek have three points in their last two games
Injury report: Blue Jackets forward Jarred Boll (upper body) practiced Wednesday and is expected to play. Defenseman Fedor Tyutin (lower body) and forward Nathan Horton (shoulder) are both out. … For the Sabres, Nikita Zadorov (hand) is questionable for Thursday while Ville Leino (ribs), Corey Tropp (jaw) and Henrik Tallinder (upper body) are out.
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