Sabres aim to end skid vs. Isles

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The losses keep on piling up for the Buffalo Sabres.

With losses in all four games so far in a five-game homestand, the Sabres will look to end their home stretch on a more positive note when the New York Islanders visit on Thursday night.

The Sabres (14-29-10) were dominated in consecutive losses to New Jersey, Florida and St. Louis but Buffalo did put up more of a fight in Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks. In that game, Ryan O’Reilly forced overtime with a late goal before the Sabres ultimately fell in the extra period.

“It’s tough,” Sabres center Jack Eichel said, according to the team’s website. “You get one point. You battle back, you play a good hockey team and you feel like maybe you deserve the second one but you don’t get it.”

“I thought we did good things, but you battle back against a desperate hockey team and obviously you want the two points. I think there’s the opportunity to make a few plays and we’re just failing to make them. That’s been the tale of our season.”

One positive for the Sabres against the Ducks was an increase in scoring. The Sabres scored at least three goals for the first time since returning home from a successful road trip. Getting more pucks on net has been a priority for the Sabres in recent weeks.

“We talked about it a bit here about getting to the net more,” O’Reilly said, according to the team’s website. “Obviously it’s an issue. We have to create more 5-on-5. We have to find a way to get these chances and it starts with playing harder and getting to the net-front.

“We did a good job of getting the puck in the zone and had some good zone time, but we have to put a little more emphasis on getting there, playing heavier in front and looking for those greasy goals. From that, that’s when you get those bounces.”

Eichel leads the Sabres in scoring with 51 points (21 goals, 30 assists) in 51 games. Robin Lehner has a save percentage of .913 in 40 games played.

The Islanders (26-22-6) are coming off a 5-4 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators on Monday. After Thursday, the Islanders head home for a four-game homestand before ending February on the road.

New York is in the thick of the playoff race with 58 points heading into Thursday’s action. The Islanders are tied with the final Wild Card team, Columbus, in points but Columbus currently holds the tie-breaker edge.

The Islanders will be without defenseman Scott Mayfield for at least four weeks due to a lower-body injury. Mayfield was injured Monday after blocking a shot by P.K. Subban.

“He’ll be a while,” Islanders coach Doug Weight said, according to the team’s website. “It hit him in the wrong spot. Some of those are a little shorter than longer. You could have a lot worse. You don’t want to see guys get hurt but hopefully he’s back soon.”

John Tavares leads the Islanders in scoring with 59 points (27 goals, 32 assists) in 54 games. Josh Bailey has 57 points (13 goals, 44 assists) in 50 games.