BLUES (13-3-3) at SABRES (5-16-1)
TV: FS-MW, MSG-B, BELL TV
Last 10: St. Louis 7-2-1; Buffalo 3-7-0
SEASON SERIES: This is the first of two meetings between the St. Louis Blues and Buffalo Sabres. In their most recent matchup, on Jan. 21, 2012, David Backes scored a pair of goals and set up two others as the Blues recorded a 4-2 victory at Scottrade Center.
BIG STORY: While the Blues' goal is to compete for a Stanley Cup this season, the Sabres are trying to build a perennial contender. It's a process that figures to take time, but there's renewed vigor in Buffalo with the returns of Pat LaFontaine and Ted Nolan to the organization. Nolan's first weekend back as coach resulted in the split of a home-and-home with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"He's an exciting personality," assistant coach Teppo Numminen told The Buffalo News. "We've got good, positive energy around, so it's been a good couple days."
BLUES: One of the NHL's most lethal offenses despite a 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday, St. Louis already has nine players with at least 10 points and Vladimir Sobotka will join them with his next goal or assist.
Believe it or not, though, the Blues still have potent weapons they're trying to get going. Patrik Berglund, who sat out against the Capitals with an upper-body injury, has scored at least 17 goals in four of the past five seasons but has just one in 2013-14, scored way back on Oct. 5.
"I think a lot of people go through this in their career," Berglund told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It's kind of my first time that I shoot and shoot but it won't go in. For me, as long as I feel like I'm helping the team out there, I know it will come. It's just not about scoring. I'm killing penalties. I'm playing against some very good lines. I'll get my chances and one will go in."
SABRES: Even though Buffalo couldn't build on a 3-1 win against the Maple Leafs in Nolan's debut Friday, dropping the matchup Saturday by a 4-2 score, the coach said in many ways their effort was more commendable in defeat, as Jamie McBain and Tyler Ennis cut into a 3-0 deficit in the third period.
Nolan has spent his first several days back with the team trying to pump up the young Sabres and pump life back into a franchise that has fallen on hard times since qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2011.
"Ted came in and basically had one-on-ones with every guy in the room," defenseman Tyler Myers told The Buffalo News. "One of the things he brought up was don't be afraid to jump up as much as you can. There's mistakes that are going to be made, and that's part of hockey. Don't worry about it. It was a good feeling to hear that."
WHO'S HOT: Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester has one goal and four assists during a four-game point streak. … Sabres goalie Ryan Miller has only won four of his 15 decisions, but he has a .919 save percentage and it's at .928 over his past five starts, including three 40-plus save performances.
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