Sabres seek to end road slide in clash with Devils

The disappointing Buffalo Sabres will try to enter the All- Star break on a positive note when they visit the New Jersey Devils for tonight's battle at Prudential Center.

The Sabres are coming off consecutive playoff appearances, but the club is currently last in the Eastern Conference with just 43 points in 48 games. Buffalo enters tonight having lost five straight games -- all in regulation -- and the Sabres are just 3-12-2 over their last 17 trips to the ice.

Each loss on the current skid has come on the road as the Sabres have gone without a point so far on a seven-game road trip that is set to end after the break when Buffalo visits Montreal on Jan. 31. The Sabres have lost a franchise-record 12 straight on the road in regulation and are just 8-15-0 as the visiting team this season compared to an 11-9-5 record as the host.

The Sabres were last in action on Saturday, when they dropped a 4-2 decision in St. Louis. Mike Weber and Tyler Myers both scored in the loss, while Ryan Miller gave up three goals on 26 shots for Buffalo.

"No matter how good we play it's like you're almost waiting for the other shoe to drop," Miller said about his team's recent struggles. "Sometimes you just have to clear your head and play some hockey."

Buffalo has lost five straight in regulation for the first time since Nov. 14-22, 2008 and the club hasn't gone six in a row without a point since it was 0-7 from Dec. 4-19, 2003. The Sabres' last six-game skid of any kind came in the form of an 0-4-2 stretch from Feb. 1-11, 2010.

The Sabres hope to get a boost tonight from the return of defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who has been sidelined since Dec. 30 with a rib injury, but has been cleared to play tonight. Ehrhoff was signed to a 10-year, $40 million deal by Buffalo in the offseason and despite missing the last 11 games, he still leads all Sabres defensemen with 17 points.

"It's been a tough few weeks for the guys that have been playing," Ehrhoff told his team's official website. "I'll just try to come in and bring some excitement, and maybe give them a little confidence. It's been a while. Obviously I'm happy to be back. Hopefully we can get out of this hole [Tuesday] and get a win."

Buffalo defenseman Robyn Regehr (upper body) has returned to practice, but he is expected to sit out a fifth straight game tonight. Forward Paul Gaustad is also expected to sit out a third straight game this evening with an upper-body issue and forward Brad Boyes is questionable with the flu.

The Devils will try to rebound from consecutive 4-1 losses when they continue a six-game homestand tonight. New Jersey had won three straight before dropping a 4-1 decision Thursday against Boston and losing by the same score Saturday against Philadelphia.

Scott Hartnell scored two power-play goals to lead the rival Flyers to Saturday's win at the Rock. Martin Brodeur stopped 16 shots for New Jersey and Alexei Ponikarovsky scored his team's lone goal in his first game with the Devils following a trade from Carolina.

"Specials teams was the difference in the game," said Devils head coach Peter DeBoer. New Jersey was 0-for-6 on the power play, while the Flyers were 2- for-5.

The Devils are 12-9-1 as the host this year and will resume their homestand next Tuesday when they emerge from the break for a home test against the rival New York Rangers.

New Jersey enters tonight as the seventh seed in the East and is just one point ahead of Washington, which is holding onto the conference's final postseason berth.

The Devils have won both of their meetings with the Sabres so far this year, winning once at home and once in Buffalo. The Sabres still have five wins in their last seven trips to New Jersey.