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At the Rink: Flyers at Sabres

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres will be without forward Tyler Ennis for a second straight game because of a lower body injury when they face the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday (7 p.m. ET; TCN-PH, MSG-B, BELL TV).

With Ennis out, Marcus Foligno will remain at right wing on the first line, with Ryan O’Reilly at center and Nicolas Deslauriers at left wing. That line had success in a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday as Deslauriers scored his second goal of the season and O'Reilly had two assists. The line combined for six shots on goal.

"At this level there are so many good players. And those guys, they're good players," O'Reilly said of his linemates. "They do a lot of things well. You give them a chance and they bury it, like [Deslauriers] last game. Because they're a little more north/south, those guys, and playing with Ennis who is a bit more east/west and looking for holes and looking for the puck, I do kind of hold onto the puck a bit more and try to create more and use my playmaking ability more than with Ennis."

Foligno's addition to the line was noticeable because of the increased physical presence it provided.

"I thought Ryan was really good in the game [against Pittsburgh], our best forward in the game," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "But I think Deslauriers and with Marcus together, we're talking about two heavy, big-bodied wingers that are going to crash and need to crash and need to bang and need to play a physical game. I think in many aspects they were that. … That was a heavy presence by both those guys in the [offensive] zone."

The Sabres lost Thursday despite 53 shots on goal including 24 in the third period. The Sabres are second in the NHL with 33.6 shots on goal per game.

"I'm not a real believer that there's not a bad shot," Bylsma said. "Last night we took some shots that the goalie gloved that I thought were not good shots. That gave them whistles and opportunities to change. So it's not just the pure volume of shots that you're looking for."

Goaltender Linus Ullmark will make his second NHL start for the Sabres.

The Flyers lost to the New Jersey Devils 4-1 on Thursday, two days after a 4-3 overtime loss to the Sabres in Philadelphia.

"Nobody's got a very good taste in their mouth this morning," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "From that respect it's good to get back at it and get the opportunity to go play tonight."

The Flyers held an optional skate Friday. Hakstol did not say if there would be any lineup changes, other than Michal Neuvirth starting in goal. It will be his first game since sustaining an upper-body injury Oct. 21 against the Boston Bruins that sidelined him for two games. He was the backup Thursday against the Devils.

Neuvirth spent parts of the past two seasons with the Sabres before he was traded to the New York Islanders on March 2. He signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Flyers on July 1.

"[The Sabres] played very well against us the other night," Hakstol said. “I thought they played a complete game in all three zones. I expect they'll do the exact same tonight. We're going to focus everything we do today on our group."

Here are the projected lineups:


Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Matt Read - Sam Gagner - Wayne Simmonds

Brayden Schenn - Scott Laughton - R.J. Umberger

Vincent Lecavalier - Chris VandeVelde - Ryan White

Michael Del Zotto - Mark Streit

Nick Schultz - Evgeny Medvedev

Brandon Manning - Luke Schenn

Michal Neuvirth

Steve Mason

Injured: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (lower body), Sean Couturier (upper body)

Scratched: Radko Gudas


Nicolas Deslauriers - Ryan O'Reilly - Marcus Foligno

Johan Larsson - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart

Matt Moulson - Zemgus Girgensons - Brian Gionta

David Legwand - Tim Schaller - Jamie McGinn

Josh Gorges - Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe - Cody Franson

Carlo Colaiacovo - Mark Pysyk

Linus Ullmark

Chad Johnson

Injured: Evander Kane (knee), Robin Lehner (ankle), Cody McCormick (blood clots), Tyler Ennis (lower body)

Scratched: Mike Weber

Status Update: Bylsma said it will be a game-time decision whether Weber or Colaiacovo will play. Colaiacovo played against the Flyers on Tuesday, but Weber played against the Penguins on Friday.

Who's Hot: McGinn has scored a goal in two straight games. He had zero goals in his first eight games. … O’Reilly has two goals and five assists during a four-game point streak. … Brayden Schenn has two goals and an assist in the past two games. Older brother Luke Schenn has a goal and three assists in the past three.

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