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GAME: Buffalo Sabres (18-22-5-1) at New York Islanders (20-19-4-1).TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.
Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff knows his team must win on the road if it plans on making the playoffs.
A five-game trip against Eastern Conference opponents would be the perfect time to start.
The Sabres try to end a four-game road winless streak when they open the trip against the struggling New York Islanders.
While the Sabres have played well at home, their play on the road is the main reason why they are currently on the outside of the conference playoff picture.
Buffalo, 3-10-1 in its last 14 road contests, hasn't won consecutive games away from home since closing out a six-game trip in October with three straight victories.
"We have to get it done on the road," Ruff said. "If we can't win on the road we're not going to be in this. We have to prove to ourselves we're good enough to win on the road because our road record in the last 12, 13 games is very poor. If we're going to get in the picture we gotta do it now."
A weak offense has prevented the Sabres from reaching the playoffs the last two seasons, but that hasn't been the case of late. Over the last nine games, Buffalo has scored 29 goals.
Mika Noronen had another strong game in net Thursday despite taking the loss. He has not allowed more than three goals in his last 32 games -- the longest active streak in the NHL.
A point on the road against the red-hot Ottawa Senators would usually be acceptable, but the Islanders squandered a 4-0 lead Thursday and settled for a disappointing 4-4 tie.
New York coach Steve Stirling felt Ottawa's first goal of the game just 17 seconds after his team scored its fourth was the turning point.
"They don't get a goal and it's game over. It's that clear," Stirling said.
One positive for the Islanders was the two goals scored by captain Michael Peca, who had gone 13 games without a goal.
Since losing right wing Mark Parrish to an ankle sprain on Jan. 1, the Islanders are 1-4-2 and have dropped into ninth place in the East.