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At the Rink: Predators at Sabres

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO – The Buffalo Sabres will have forward Zemgus Girgensons in the lineup when they host the Nashville Predators on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, BELL TV, FS-TN).

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said Girgensons will re-enter the lineup after he missed the past four games with an upper-body injury he sustained against the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 14.

"It's never fun being hurt, it's kind of boring," Girgensons said. "You want to be out there with the team and we've lost the last five. It's tough to just sit at home and watch the game from TV."

Girgensons has a goal and an assist in 17 games this season. The Sabres had an optional skate on Wednesday and Bylsma said he hasn't decided where in the lineup Girgensons will fit in.

Part of the reason the lineup may be undecided is because Buffalo may be without forward Evander Kane because of a lower-body injury. Kane missed Sabres practice on Tuesday and skated before the rest of the team took the ice on Wednesday. Bylsma said Kane "possibly" will play against the Predators. Girgensons skated in Kane's spot on a line with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart on Tuesday.

The Sabres (8-11-2) have lost five straight games and have scored five goals in those games.

"I think in times like this it'd be a bigger worry if the chances weren't there," Reinhart said. "We were talking and the chances are definitely there. It's just a matter of time and a matter of finding ways to get the puck in the net. It's easy to get frustrated, but we're going to stick with it. Hopefully tonight is the night it all changes."

Linus Ullmark will make his second consecutive start for the Sabres.

"I thought he played real strong [against the St. Louis Blues on Monday]," Bylsma said. "I thought he was pitching a shutout in that game. I think he's going to give us the best chance to win the match tonight."

Like the Sabres, the Predators have also struggled scoring. Nashville hasn't scored a goal in the past 213:47 and they have been shut out in three straight games.

"I think there's a lot of confidence in the room," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "Very happy [chances have been there], but I hate the result. The results are not what we're looking for."

The Predators (11-6-3) last scored at 6:13 of the second period in a 3-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 17, but in the past three games they have 203 shot attempts.

"Obviously three games in a row it's a little frustrating," Predators forward Filip Forsberg said. "Especially the last game where we played pretty good, we outplayed the Rangers in New York and obviously that's a good sign, but we've got to start scoring goals."

Predators forward Cody Hodgson will play in his first game against the Sabres since he was waived and had his contract bought out by Buffalo on June 30.

"It's a little different being here," Hodgson said. "I saw some friends last night, but it's business back at the rink here."

Carter Hutton will make his third start of the season. His last start came on Nov. 1 against Anaheim.

Here are the projected lineups:


Filip ForsbergMike RibeiroJames Neal

Colin WilsonMike FisherCraig Smith

Gabriel BourqueCalle JarnkrokCody Hodgson

Eric NystromPaul GaustadAustin Watson

Roman JosiShea Weber

Barret JackmanSeth Jones

Mattias EkholmRyan Ellis

Carter Hutton

Pekka Rinne

Injured: None

Scratched: Anthony Bitetto, Miikka Salomaki, Victor Bartley


Matt MoulsonRyan O'ReillyBrian Gionta

Zemgus GirgensonsJack EichelSam Reinhart

Marcus FolignoJohan LarssonTyler Ennis

Jamie McGinnDavid LegwandNicolas Deslauriers

Josh GorgesRasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabeZach Bogosian

Carlo ColaiacovoCody Franson

Linus Ullmark

Chad Johnson

Injured: Evander Kane (lower body), Mark Pysyk (lower body), Mike Weber (knee), Robin

Lehner (ankle), Cody McCormick (blood clot)

Scratched: Tim Schaller

Status Update: The Sabres' lineup will be a game-time decision, so Kane's status won't be known until warmups. Pysyk is still out with a lower-body injury, but skated again on Wednesday.

Who's Hot: Ullmark has made 148 saves on 158 shots in his last five starts for a .937 save percentage.

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