The slumping New Jersey Devils will try to avoid a seventh straight loss when they visit the Buffalo Sabres for Sunday's clash at First Niagara Center.
The Devils are on a six-game slide (0-3-3) to match their worst losing streak of the season. New Jersey also went through an 0-5-1 stretch from Feb. 23- March 5 and the club is just 6-11-5 over its last 22 games.
New Jersey's last three setbacks have come in regulation and the Devils dropped a 2-1 decision Saturday against visiting Toronto. Tyler Bozak's third- period tally proved to be the difference for the Maple Leafs.
David Clarkson scored the lone New Jersey goal, while Martin Brodeur stopped 16 shots in the setback.
After its latest loss, New Jersey finds itself in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and three points out of a playoff spot.
"I don't think we're panicking. We have a lot of games left," Clarkson said of his team's struggles. "We're a confident team, we believe in ourselves and we're going to have to continue to keep pushing."
The Devils also will try to halt a four-game road losing streak on Sunday and are just 5-7-7 as the visiting team this season.
New Jersey will play its seventh straight game without star winger Ilya Kovalchuk on Sunday. Kovalchuk is still out with a shoulder injury and has yet to return to practice.
Despite trading away captain Jason Pominville at Wednesday's deadline the Sabres are still very much in the Eastern Conference playoff race and enter Sunday's test just three points behind the Devils.
Buffalo has helped its cause with consecutive wins and earned a 4-2 victory Friday night against Ottawa in the club's first game without Pominville. Brian Flynn and Jochen Hecht scored 12 seconds apart late in the third period, lifting the Sabres to the 4-2 win over the Senators.
Luke Adam and Steve Ott also lit the lamp for the Sabres, who are 5-2-2 over their last nine outings. Ryan Miller made 35 saves for Buffalo on Friday.
While the Sabres have indicated they won't name a new captain until next season, Ott was awarded the club's third assistant slot upon Pominville's departure.
"Obviously there are a lot of great leaders in this dressing room and we lost a great one in Jason Pominville," Ott said. "I thought he showed up every single night and he was a tremendous hockey player. To throw the 'A' on the jersey and have that representation means a lot to myself, but like I said, a lot of guys in here lead in their own way and hopefully a few guys jump on my coattails and we can ride off and continue to collect points."
Another one of Buffalo's assistant captains, Thomas Vanek, has missed the last five games with an upper body injury but he is questionable for Sunday. Vanek is leading the Sabres with 16 goals and 33 points this season.
The Devils and Sabres are playing for the third and final time in the regular season tonight. The previous two meetings went to the shootout phase, with Buffalo winning a 4-3 decision at home on March 2 and the Devils taking the rematch in New Jersey by a 3-2 score on March 7.
New Jersey has won four of six overall in the series and the clubs have split the last six encounters in Western New York.