NEWARK, N.J. -- Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff finally had an opportunity to look on the bright side on Tuesday as his team prepared for the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.
One day after learning defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who had been sidelined the past three weeks with a rib injury, would make his anticipated return, Ruff got word that fellow defenseman Robyn Regehr would also return following a four-game absence.
"I'm going to go out there and help us try and win a game … it's come around the last couple of days as I've been able to take some slap shots with the guys in practice," Regehr, who was suffering from an upper-body injury, said. "My strength seems to be back, so hopefully I can use some of it [Tuesday]. It's never fun when you're a player stuck on the sidelines having to watch -- you really don't feel you're part of the team.
"I like being around the guys and being a part of the solution. We're on a slide right now and we have one game to turn it around and then enjoy a few-days break so I think everyone is looking forward to that opportunity."
Since Ehrhoff suffered his injury on Dec. 30 in a fight with Troy Brouwer of the Washington Capitals, the Sabres have gone 2-7-2. The Sabres' power play has also faltered without Ehrhoff, going 4-for-28 over that 11-game stretch.
"It's huge to have those guys back, just having their presence in the locker room is big," Sabres captain Jason Pominville said. "They are two of our top defensemen and they're going to log a lot of minutes. Robyn usually plays against the top line and Christian is really good on the power play and penalty kill. They're going to add a lot to our team and we're excited to have them both back."
Will it make a difference for the struggling Sabres, who currently sit last in the Eastern Conference?
The Sabres have lost 12 straight games on the road in regulation -- they've never before dropped more than seven in a row at any point in their history. The team is 8-15 away from First Niagara Center in 2011-12 with just 41 goals in 23 games for an NHL-low 1.78 per game.
Buffalo has been outscored 50-17 during its 12-game road losing streak, and 11 of those losses have been by two or more goals. Their seven-game road trip concludes next Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Entering the sixth game of the current swing against the Devils, the Sabres have been outscored 23-7.
Goalie Ryan Miller is just 3-9-0 in his last 12 decisions and backup Jonas Enroth is 1-8-3 in his last 12 outings. Miller, who sports a 5.00 goals-against average and .836 save percentage during the team's current five-game losing streak, needs just two victories to equal Dominik Hasek's franchise record of 234 career wins.
Nearing the end of the Tuesday's practice, Miller took a hard slap shot to the collarbone off a shot by Marc-Andre Gragnani. He quickly skated off the ice but later told the media, "I am fine."
"I think he's OK," Ruff said. "He took a shot there. I didn't see it but I think he's OK."
Ruff is obviously happy to have both Ehrhoff and Regehr back in the lineup against the Devils.
"It should really help our defending," Ruff said. "I think up ice we've done a better job of getting inside but it's in our own end where we've had a tough time and two get two NHL defensemen back should help us."
Forward Brad Boyes, who missed practice on Monday with the flu, was again with the team at Tuesday's skate. He'll resume his normal role at center alongside Ville Leino and Drew Stafford. The team returned defenseman Joe Finley to their American Hockey League affiliate in Rochester.
Here is the projected lineup for the Sabres against the Devils:
Thomas Vanek - Derek Roy - Jason Pominville
Nathan Gerbe - Jochen Hecht - Patrick Kaleta
Ville Leino - Brad Boyes - Drew Stafford
Matt Ellis - Luke Adam - Cody McCormick
Andrej Sekera - Tyler Myers
Christian Ehrhoff - Jordan Leopold
Mike Weber - Robyn Regehr
Miller is likely to get the start in goal, while Enroth serves as backup.