BUFFALO – The Buffalo Sabres head into their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on a five-game losing streak and have lost eight of the past nine games. Sabres coach Ted Nolan is searching for answers in his lineup and working around some injuries.
Defenseman Josh Gorges is out with an upper-body injury he sustained Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues. Forward Marcus Foligno missed the game Thursday against the Minnesota Wild after returning from injury on Tuesday. He'll be back in the lineup against Toronto.
"You want to come back in the lineup and make a difference," Foligno said. "Obviously against St. Louis, it's a tough game. I didn't get in too many practices or anything before I got back in, but I was itching to get in and I got a chance to be ready here against a good team like Toronto, and it's always fun playing this team."
Foligno missed four games with an upper-body injury. Patrick Kaleta, who returned Thursday after missing a year of action with separate knee and jaw injuries, will be scratched to make room for Foligno.
"He's been out almost a year of hockey so you don't want to put him right into the fire and put him in the games, you want to break him in and give him a little bit of time to adjust," Nolan said. "The game the other night, Minnesota is not a slow team, so it was a little bit too quick, too soon so we're just going to give him a little bit of time."
With Gorges out, Nolan has been trying to find a defenseman to pair up with Tyler Myers. Against Minnesota it was Andre Benoit, but it appears likely he'll be scratched in favor of Andrej Meszaros against Toronto. Goaltender Michal Neuvirth will start.
The Maple Leafs did not skate Saturday off a 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. Jonathan Bernier made 38 saves and Cody Franson scored his third goal of the season. Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle could start goalie James Reimer against the Sabres. Reimer is 7-2-2 with a .903 save percentage and 3.22 goals-against average in his career against Buffalo.
Here are the projected lineups:
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Daniel Winnik – Nazem Kadri – David Clarkson
Leo Komarov – Peter Holland – Mike Santorelli
Richard Panik – Trevor Smith – Josh Leivo
Dion Phaneuf – Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner – Roman Polak
Morgan Rielly – Stephane Robidas
Scratched: Matt Frattin
Injured: Joffrey Lupul (broken hand), Brandon Kozun (high ankle sprain), David Booth (broken foot)
Matt Moulson – Zemgus Girgensons – Tyler Ennis
Brian Flynn – Torrey Mitchell – Brian Gionta
Nicolas Deslauriers – Cody McCormick – Drew Stafford
Marcus Foligno – Cody Hodgson – Chris Stewart
Andrej Meszaros – Tyler Myers
Nikita Zadorov – Rasmus Ristolainen
Mike Weber – Tyson Strachan
Scratched: Andre Benoit, Patrick Kaleta
Injured: Josh Gorges (upper body)
Status report: Nolan said Gorges "will be out for a little bit." Meszaros is expected to play, but whether he'll be paired with Myers is unknown. The Sabres held an optional skate and did not run their defensive pairs.
Who's hot: Franson has a six-game point streak with two goals and six assists during that run. Girgensons has two goals and two assists in the past four games.