MONTREAL -- Buffalo Sabres captain Brian Gionta will play his first game at Bell Centre on Saturday since leaving the Montreal Canadiens as a free agent, but former Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges will not be ready to face his former team as he had hoped.
Gionta spent five seasons with the Canadiens and was captain for the past four. He had 97 goals and 173 points in 303 games with Montreal.
"It's a little weird coming in, but I think coming for game time it will be a little different," said Gionta, who did not take part in Buffalo's optional skate in the wake of the Sabres' 2-1 win against the Canadiens on Friday.
Gionta said he felt no lingering effects from a hit Friday by Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin, who was assessed a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head at 18:06 of the third period.
"When a guy has a chance to go through your body instead, that's what you would hope they'd do," Gionta said. "I have no problem getting hit, but come through my body instead of my head."
Matt Moulson scored the game-winning goal on the ensuing power play. Emelin was fined $11,021.51 by the Department of Player Safety on Saturday.
Gorges, who was traded to the Sabres by Montreal on July 1, took part in the skate but was not cleared to return from a knee injury that has sidelined him for the past six games.
"I knew this game from July on was coming and was looking forward to it," Gorges said. "The fact I can't be out there is a bit tough to swallow."
Sabres right wing Drew Stafford also skated but will not be in the lineup. Stafford sustained a lower-body injury Friday and left after the first period of Buffalo's 2-1 win.
"It was a 50-50, so instead of trying to lose him for a long time, we'd rather lose him just for the one game," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.
Forward Tim Schaller was recalled from Rochester of the American Hockey League and will make his NHL debut Saturday.
Here are the projected lineups:
Matt Moulson – Zemgus Girgensons – Tyler Ennis
Brian Flynn – Torrey Mitchell – Brian Gionta
Marcus Foligno – Cody Hodgson – Chris Stewart
Nicolas Deslauriers - Tim Schaller – Patrick Kaleta
Tyson Strachan – Tyler Myers
Nikita Zadorov – Rasmus Ristolainen
Andre Benoit – Mike Weber
Injured: Cody McCormick (concussion), Josh Gorges (knee), Drew Stafford (lower body), Andrej Meszaros (undisclosed)
Max Pacioretty – David Desharnais – Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
Alex Galchenyuk – Tomas Plekanec – Brendan Gallagher
Brandon Prust – Lars Eller – Jiri Sekac
Eric Tangradi – Manny Malhotra – Dale Weise
Andrei Markov – P.K. Subban
Sergei Gonchar – Alexei Emelin
Bryan Allen – Mike Weaver
Scratched: Tom Gilbert
Injured: Michael Bournival (shoulder)
Status report: Nolan said Meszaros "took a little bang" Friday, so Benoit will play for the second time in three games after he was left out of the lineup for seven of nine games. Montreal did not practice Saturday.
Who's hot: Enroth has allowed five goals while going 3-1-0 in his past four starts. The Sabres have not allowed an even-strength goal in more than 13 periods.