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At the Rink: Blues at Sabres

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- The St. Louis Blues (13-6-2) will have center Paul Stastny back in the lineup when they face the Buffalo Sabres (8-10-2) on Monday (7 p.m. ET; FS-MW, MSG-B, BELL TV).

Stastny took part in the Blues' optional skate Monday and confirmed he will play against the Sabres. He had missed the past 16 games because of a broken right foot sustained Oct. 16.

"It feels good," Stastny said. "It was just more about … every day I push it more and more and if I didn't have a setback, it kept getting better and better and the doctors checked it out the other day and said it was good to go. When it comes to bone it's different than it is a ligament; just sometimes it's kind of a wait-and-see approach and you have to wait until it heals. The older you are the longer it takes to heal."

Stastny, 29, has one goal and four assists in five games this season and will return to his previous spot between Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko.

"It puts us in a more organized position there," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's going to be a little bit of time before he gets up to speed. I think that line was an awful good line before [Stastny] went down and we'll see how quickly we can get it up to speed. I think he's going to really help us on special teams. He was obviously very good on the power play and equally good killing penalties."

With Stastny returning to the lineup, Scott Gomez will be scratched against the Sabres. Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo will re-enter the lineup in place of Joel Edmundson. Goaltender Jake Allen will start.

"We need [Bortuzzo's] energy," Hitchcock said. "We missed having him in the lineup. We've got to get him in the lineup. He's got great energy, he's skating really well, he's playing really well; we just need his energy."

Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk was named NHL Third Star of the Week on Monday. He had two goals and four assists in four games last week and has seven points in eight games since returning from injury Nov. 7.

"It's very cool," Shattenkirk said. "More importantly I feel like I'm playing hockey like myself again. We've been battling. The team's been doing a really good job to get wins here while we've had a lot of injuries. I'm glad that I can come back and be part of it and help contribute."

The Sabres are winless in four straight games (0-2-2) and have scored four goals in those games. Even though they've managed to get two points during the losing streak, the Sabres are in need of more offense as they've scored 42 non-shootout goals in 20 games, 27th in the League.

"We haven't put the puck in as much as we wanted to but we know it's a process and it's going to come," Sabres forward Tyler Ennis said. "We've got really good players. … Everything's going to come; we've just got to keep working. I think it goes back to simplifying [our game], especially against these teams like St. Louis."

Even though Ennis is tied for third on the Sabres with 10 points, he hasn't scored a goal in nine games, leads the Sabres with 13 giveaways. He'll play on the third line against the Blues.

"He's just got to simplify his game," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "He is a special player, can make those plays. But he can't be trying to do it with every time he touches the puck."

Linus Ullmark will start in goal for the Sabres.

Here are the projected lineups:


Alexander Steen - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko

Magnus Paajarvi - David Backes - Scottie Upshall

Robby Fabbri - Jori Lehtera - Troy Brouwer

Steve Ott - Kyle Brodziak - Dmitrij Jaskin

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Robert Bortuzzo - Colton Parayko

Jake Allen

Brian Elliott

Injured: Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Patrik Berglund (shoulder)

Scratched: Joel Edmundson, Ryan Reaves, Scott Gomez


Matt Moulson - Ryan O'Reilly - Brian Gionta

Evander Kane - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart

Marcus Foligno - Johan Larsson - Tyler Ennis

Nicolas Deslauriers - David Legwand - Jamie McGinn

Josh Gorges - Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe - Zach Bogosian

Carlo Colaiacovo - Cody Franson

Linus Ullmark

Chad Johnson

Injured: Zemgus Girgensons (upper body), Mark Pysyk (lower body), Mike Weber (knee), Robin Lehner (ankle), Cody McCormick (blood clot)

Scratched: Tim Schaller

Status Update: Pysyk skated Monday but will not play against the Blues. He has missed the past two games because of a lower-body injury. … Bylsma said Girgensons is day-to-day.

Who's Hot: Shattenkirk has two goals and five assists during a five-game point streak. … Tarasenko has five goals and three assists in the past five games.

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