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At the Rink: Hurricanes at Sabres

by Joe Yerdon /

BUFFALO -- Matt Moulson will return to the Buffalo Sabres lineup when they face the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, MSG-B, BELL TV).

Moulson missed the past two games because of an illness but was back on the ice when the Sabres skated Monday. Moulson is second on the Sabres in scoring with 40 points.

"We're going in the right direction," Moulson said. "We've definitely played a lot better than we played earlier on in the season. I think part of that is maturing and learning from things we've gone through throughout the season. Hopefully we can keep carrying that forward."

Moulson will be on the first line, alongside Ennis and Johan Larsson.

Buffalo has lost two straight games after winning two straight before that. They lost 4-3 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday after Jonathan Toews scored two late goals and lost 3-0 to the New York Islanders the following night.

"For what we're going through this year, I'm very proud of this team," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "One thing they do is they give you what they have to give. Some nights we didn't have it and that's almost every team in the League. But the vast majority of games, especially after the [NHL] Trade Deadline occurred, these guys punch the clock and come into work."

Anders Lindback will start in goal for the Sabres.

The Hurricanes are coming off a 3-2 shootout win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, which ended a three-game losing streak (0-2-1). Offense has been hard to come by for the Hurricanes in general this season, but in the past 10 games they've scored 18 non-shootout goals and they've gone 3-4-3 during that stretch.

"It's definitely been tough," Hurricanes captain Eric Staal said. "When you're counted on offensively you want to tend to cheat offensively and look for breaks that way. But at the end of the day you don't win games like that. You don't go in the right direction like that."

Staal leads the Hurricanes in goals (22) and points (51). Recently he's had his brother Jordan Staal and Elias Lindholm as his linemates.

"[Lindholm] is a big, strong man. He’s very hard to play against," Eric Staal said. "We spend a lot of time in the offensive zone because of his ability to play defense and then his ability to carry the puck in the offensive zone. We don't turn it over a lot, we play the game the right way and create a lot of zone time. It's been fun for me and we developed some chemistry right off the bat as far as chances-for."

The ability for all three forwards to play well defensively is something that's helped them in all zones.

"The thing that people that don't respect in our sport enough is the players that are good defensively get to go play offense," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "The good players defensively go in and are able to transition the puck out efficiently so they have enough energy left in their shift length to go play in the offensive zone without being exhausted. You don't want to get wore out in the [defensive] zone and that's what happens to players who aren't quite as intense or attentive to detail in the [defensive] zone."

Cam Ward will start in goal for the Hurricanes.

Here are the projected lineups:


Eric Staal - Jordan Staal - Elias Lindholm

Jeff Skinner - Andrej Nestrasil - Alexander Semin

Chris Terry - Victor Rask - Nathan Gerbe

Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Patrick Dwyer

Ron Hainsey - Justin Faulk

Brett Bellemore - John-Michael Liles

Michal Jordan - Danny Biega

Cam Ward

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Ryan Murphy

Injured: Riley Nash (concussion), Rasmus Rissanen (knee), Jack Hillen (concussion)


Matt Moulson - Johan Larsson - Tyler Ennis

Marcus Foligno - Mikhail Grigorenko - Brian Gionta

Zac Dalpe - Philip Varone - Cody Hodgson

Nicolas Deslauriers - Matt Ellis - Patrick Kaleta

Tyson Strachan - Zach Bogosian

Andrej Meszaros - Rasmus Ristolainen

Nikita Zadorov - Andre Benoit

Anders Lindback

Andrey Makarov

Scratched: None

Injured: Mike Weber (undisclosed), Matt Hackett (lower body), Jerry D'Amigo (facial surgery), Zemgus Girgensons (foot), Josh Gorges (lower body), Chad Johnson (lower body), Cody McCormick (blood clots), Evander Kane (shoulder)

Status Report: Nash and Rissanen wore non-contact jerseys during the Hurricanes' morning skate. … Tim Schaller skated with the Sabres on Monday, but with Moulson healthy he was returned to Rochester of the American Hockey League. … Nolan said they would know more about Weber's status soon.

Who's Hot: Lindholm has a point in two straight games, with one goal and one assist. … Terry has two goals and two assists in the past five games. … Meszaros has four goals and an assist in five games.

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