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At the Rink: Panthers at Sabres

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres are going back to their opening-night lineup when they host the Florida Panthers on Friday.

Defenseman Andrej Meszaros will be back in the lineup after he was a healthy scratch for the Sabres' 4-3 shootout win Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

"He's got to be one of our top-four defensemen," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "You don't judge the whole season on one game so we want to see him playing the way he's capable of playing. So that was the choice. A lot of coaches believe in doing the same thing and getting the same result, but he can play a lot better for us and we're looking forward to that [Friday]."

Meszaros will be paired with Andre Benoit. In his previous three games, Meszaros had one assist and averaged 19:38 of ice time.

The Panthers are hoping to get more offense from their lineup. In three games Florida has scored three goals and was shut out by the Ottawa Senators 1-0 on Monday.

"We're giving guys different looks and different positions. Hopefully something connects," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "We want to see some good chemistry. Like I talked about, the team's worked hard, they've done some really good things, but the bottom line is we're not winning yet and we've just got to find some chemistry."

One of those different looks Gallant talked about involves Jimmy Hayes and Brad Boyes switching spots in the lineup. Hayes will start on a line with Aleksander Barkov and Jussi Jokinen while Boyes moves to the fourth line with Derek MacKenzie and Tomas Kopecky.

Florida's Roberto Luongo and Buffalo's Jhonas Enroth were the first goalies off the ice for their respective teams during the morning skates, which likely means they will start.

Here are the projected lineups:


Jussi Jokinen - Aleksander Barkov - Jimmy Hayes

Jonathan Huberdeau - Nick Bjugstad - Scottie Upshall

Sean Bergenheim - Dave Bolland - Tomas Fleischmann

Tomas Kopecky - Derek MacKenzie - Brad Boyes

Willie Mitchell - Dmitry Kulikov

Aaron Ekblad - Brian Campbell

Dylan Olsen - Erik Gudbranson

Roberto Luongo

Al Montoya

Scratched: Shawn Thornton, Brandon Pirri, Colby Robak

Injured: None


Matt Moulson - Tyler Ennis - Drew Stafford

Marcus Foligno - Cody Hodgson - Chris Stewart

Torrey Mitchell - Zemgus Girgensons - Brian Gionta

Nicolas Deslauriers - Sam Reinhart - Cody McCormick

Josh Gorges - Tyler Myers

Andre Benoit - Andrej Meszaros

Rasmus Ristolainen - Mike Weber

Jhonas Enroth

Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Brian Flynn, Tyson Strachan, Nikita Zadorov

Injured: Patrick Kaleta (jaw)

Status report: Reinhart will be on the fourth line for the second consecutive game. In the Sabres' win Tuesday he played 6:39. ... Kaleta resumed skating with the team this week after he sustained a jaw injury when he was hit in the face with a puck during the preseason.

Who's hot: Foligno is coming off a two-goal game against Carolina and shares the team lead in scoring, along with Stafford, with three points. … MacKenzie and Campbell lead the Panthers in scoring with two points.

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