BUFFALO – Brian Gionta will miss his third consecutive game to start the season when the Buffalo Sabres face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday.
Gionta sustained a lower-body injury during practice last Tuesday. He remains day-to-day.
"I'm not so sure that he probably couldn't have played or gutted it out, but we don't want to be in a situation where this turns from day-to-day to long-term," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "He has skated with the team for two days, skated again this morning and progressing along."
Defenseman Jake McCabe will make his season debut for Buffalo. McCabe was recalled from Rochester of the American Hockey League on Monday after he was sent down Saturday.
"I guess the better question would be why did Jake go down and play a game down there," Bylsma said. "He went because he could and to stay in playing games – that's why he went down to play the games. He didn't have to clear waivers and so that's why he went down to play. He was always in the mind to be a guy to put in the lineup."
Bylsma said he'll decide after warm-ups which defenseman will come out to make room for McCabe. Since McCabe is a left-handed shooting defenseman, Mike Weber or Carlo Colaiacovo, who each have a minus-3 rating this season, are possibilities.
Chad Johnson will make his second consecutive start. He is the Sabres starting goalie because Robin Lehner will miss 6-10 weeks with a high ankle sprain he sustained in the second period of a 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators last Thursday.
Like the Sabres, the Blue Jackets are looking for their first win of the season after dropping a home-and-home series to the New York Rangers. Columbus blew a 2-1 third-period lead Friday when the Rangers scored three goals in 77 seconds, and finding ways to stay consistent and relaxed are keys.
"The way the game ended on Friday, that wasn't the whole game because we showed good composure throughout the game," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "Down 1-0, it was 1-1 going into the third, we score three minutes into the third; so there's composure up to that point, but once they scored the tying goal and the one right away after, that's when we lost our composure.
"So it wasn't the whole game, it was one instance and we have to get better and then for me it was also the start of the game in New York. It's not a whole composure thing throughout the game, it's recognizing the moments, recognizing the situations, and showing composure in those moments."
Richards said there would be no lineup changes. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky will make his third consecutive start.
Here are the projected lineups:
Brandon Saad – Ryan Johansen – Nick Foligno
Boone Jenner – Brandon Dubinsky – Rene Bourque
Scott Hartnell – William Karlsson – Cam Atkinson
Matt Calvert – Gregory Campbell – Jared Boll
Ryan Murray – David Savard
Fedor Tyutin – Jack Johnson
Kevin Connauton – Dalton Prout
Scratched: Cody Goloubef
Injured: Alexander Wennberg (concussion), David Clarkson (lower body)
Ryan O'Reilly – Zemgus Girgensons – Tyler Ennis
Evander Kane – Jack Eichel – Jamie McGinn
Matt Moulson – Johan Larsson – Marcus Foligno
Nicolas Deslauriers – David Legwand – Sam Reinhart
Josh Gorges – Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe – Cody Franson
Carlo Colaiacovo – Mark Pysyk
Scratched: Matt Donovan, Mike Weber
Injured: Brian Gionta (lower body), Zach Bogosian (lower body), Robin Lehner (ankle)
Status report: Although the Blue Jackets shifted some lines around in their 5-2 loss to the Rangers on Saturday, they don't have many options to make changes with Goloubef the only healthy extra player available… Gionta's absence means Reinhart will stay in the lineup. He skated as an extra forward at practice Sunday.
Who's hot: Legwand has scored one goal against the Blue Jackets in every season since 2002-2003.