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Flyers-Sabres preview: While Nolan Patrick's team shines, Jack Eichel's team struggles

The Flyers, winners of seven of their last eight, will try to hand host Buffalo its fourth straight loss Friday.

While Buffalo Sabres star Jack Eichel (right) has 28 points this season, his team as a whole is last in the NHL in goals scored at 2.12 per game.
While Buffalo Sabres star Jack Eichel (right) has 28 points this season, his team as a whole is last in the NHL in goals scored at 2.12 per game.Read moreChris Szagola/AP

Flyers (15-12-7) at Sabres (8-19-7)

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday

WHERE: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, N.Y.

BROADCAST & STREAMING: TV — NBC Sports Philadelphia (TV), (online), 97.5 The Fanatic (radio)

SOCIAL MEDIA COVERAGE: @BroadStBull and @samdonnellon on Twiter.

KEY PLAYERS: The Sabres are last in the NHL in goals scored (2.12 per game) and near the bottom in goals allowed (3.32), so it shouldn't be surprising that their top three scorers — Evander Kane (31 points), Jack Eichel (28) and Ryan O'Reilly (21) — are a combined minus-41.

Sam Reinhart, who has just five goals in 34 games, will move onto Eichel's line (with Zemgus Girgensons) to try to get going Friday. He hasn't scored in a month.

The Sabres' other dangerous line will be composed of Kane, O'Reilly, and Kyle Okposo.

Buffalo, which is at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, has lost three straight, started by a 2-1 loss to the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on Dec. 14. In that game, Travis Sanheim scored his first NHL goal and Val Filppula's second-period tally snapped a 1-1 tie.

The Flyers have won seven of their last eight in the wake of a 10-game losing streak (0-5-5). Jake Voracek, who is second in the NHL with 34 assists, paces the Flyers with 42 points. Claude Giroux (39), Sean Couturier (31) and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (26) have also keyed the attack.

The defense is anchored by Ivan Provorov, Robert Hagg (plus-14) and Andrew MacDonald.

Rookie center Nolan Patrick is coming off one of his best games of the season.

THINGS TO KNOW: Coach Dave Hakstol wouldn't commit to his goalie Thursday, but if he is ever going to play rookie Alex Lyon, Friday would be the time. Brian Elliott has started nine straight and 18 of the last 19 and could use a break — especially since the Flyers play Saturday in Columbus. … Backup goalie Michal Neuvirth, who has been sidelined with an unspecified injury, made the trip but is not expected to be ready this weekend, according to GM Ron Hextall. … The Sabres' goal-differential is minus-42, the Flyers' is minus-1. … The Flyers are three points out of a playoff spot. … Elliott outdueled Robin Lehner in the teams' first meeting.

HEAD TO HEAD: The Flyers, narrow winners over the Sabres last week, have an 87-60-20-7 advantage in the all-time series. The teams will meet for the third and final time this season on Jan. 7 at the Wells Fargo Center.


Saturday: 7 p.m. at Columbus.

Thursday: 7:30 p.m. at Florida.

Friday: 7:30 p.m. at Tampa Bay.

Jan. 2: 7 p.m. vs. Pittsburgh.