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Sharks vs. Sabres Preview: San Jose looks to creep closer to clinching playoff spot

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Sharks host Buffalo for only time this season.

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Buffalo Sabres Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Sharks can take another step towards clinching a playoff berth as they host the Buffalo Sabres for the only time this season on Tuesday night. San Jose predictably lost to the Sabres in Buffalo in the teams’ only previous meeting in heartbreaking fashion.

San Jose is coming off an impressive offensive display that saw Team Teal score five times in a 5-1 over the Dallas Stars on Sunday night. Aaron Dell backstopped that effort and I speculate he’ll get a shot to play in back-to-back games. Martin Jones got the last start against Buffalo.

How about those Sabres? Buffalo, coached by Dan Bylsma, beat Columbus on Saturday to snap a four-game losing streak. The Sabres are technically still in the hunt for a playoff spot, much like literally everyone else in the Eastern Conference, but are a long shot to make the dance at this point in the season.

While their possession numbers are bad, the Sabres boast some talent up top. Jack Eichel is the real deal. He has 47 points in 48 games and, had he played a full season, you gotta wonder if the Sabres would at least be a bubble team right now. Okay, probably not. But keep the faith, Buffalo! Another good draft and I think this team is on the cusp of something.

The Sabres are playing without Kyle Okposo, who has 43 points in 63 games in his first season with Buffalo. He’s been out with bruised ribs since March 2. That’s one of five players hockey-reference.com has on Buffalo’s injured list.

The Sharks played a sloppy game on Sunday and while they skated away with the win will want to start a whole lot better than they did against the Stars. A day off in between games should help with that, though it may not bring back Melker Karlsson, who missed the game with a lower body injury. Don’t expect David Schlemko to return, either.

With that in mind, I expect San Jose to skate the same lineup that gave it a 5-1 win on Sunday. I know, I’m blowing your mind. Ryan Carpenter and Tim Heed were returned to the San Jose Barracuda on Monday according to the AHL transaction log.