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At the Rink: Sabres at Ducks

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau has had the continuity of using the same six defensemen for the first six games of the season, but he might put Mark Fistric into the lineup Wednesday against the Buffalo Sabres at Honda Center.

Fistric took line rushes with defenseman Sami Vatanen in the third pairing and Vatanen's usual partner, Clayton Stoner, stayed out with the extras. It would be Fistric's first game this season.

"Him and [defenseman] Bryan [Allen] were both regulars on our team last year and I don't think you can win with just 20 guys," Boudreau said. "You have to have a 23-man roster. And at some point these guys have got to play. I've got all the confidence in the world in Mark; it's just that our defense has played pretty well recently.

"It's tough with eight defensemen, but you've got to get them acclimated in the games or they're not going to feel a part of it."

Fistric came on strong on at the end of last season and finished second on the Ducks in hits (142) and had a plus or even rating in 13 of his final 14 games (plus-7). He said he's had dialogue with Boudreau about getting in and said he was excited to play.

"You're not really learning anything if you're content sitting out every game," Fistric said. "You always want to get in. The longer I wait the harder it is to get back in the lineup to be effective."

Buffalo is trying to avoid being shut out for a third straight game for the first time in franchise history after 1-0 and 4-0 losses to the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins, respectively.

"In order to score you've got to shoot the puck, first of all," Buffalo coach Ted Nolan said. "It starts with the faceoffs. We haven't been shooting the puck. If you don't win the faceoffs you end up chasing the puck more so than not. We've got to really bear down on our faceoffs, get ourselves in position, move our feet, attack and throw the pucks at the net with some bodies there for deflections, rebounds. In this League there's not too many [Alex] Ovechkin goals that are going to happen."

This is a rematch of an Oct. 13 game, a 5-1 Anaheim win in which the Ducks outshot the Sabres 44-12, and after which Nolan likened it to an NHL team playing a "peewee" team.

Boudreau is on high alert.

"I've been in these things many times where you beat a team pretty good, the coach calls you out and the next game you're playing your best game no matter what," Boudreau said. "And that's what I think we're going to get from Buffalo. So if we're not ready it's going to be troublesome."

Here are the projected lineups:


Matt Moulson - Tyler Ennis - Brian Gionta

Torrey Mitchell - Zemgus Girgensons - Drew Stafford

Marcus Foligno - Cody Hodgson - Chris Stewart

Nicolas Deslauriers - Sam Reinhart - Cody McCormick

Josh Gorges - Tyler Myers

Mike Weber - Andrej Meszaros

Andre Benoit - Rasmus Ristolainen

Michal Neuvirth

Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: Tyson Strachan, Nikita Zadorov, Brian Flynn

Injured: Matt Hackett (lower body), Patrick Kaleta (upper body)


Devante Smith-Pelly - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg

Matt Beleskey - William Karlsson - Rickard Rakell

Emerson Etem - Nate Thompson - Tim Jackman

Cam Fowler - Ben Lovejoy

Hampus Lindholm - Francois Beauchemin

Mark Fistric - Sami Vatanen

Frederik Andersen

John Gibson

Scratched: Clayton Stoner, Chris Wagner

Injured: Bryan Allen (lower body), Dany Heatley (groin), Kyle Palmieri (ankle), Patrick Maroon (knee)

Status report: Andersen was off the ice first. Boudreau had left open the possibility of Gibson starting but Andersen has won five straight starts (5-0-0) and can match his career-high six-game winning streak. ... Heatley and Allen are skating but remain a ways off from returning. ... Reinhart will go back into the lineup for Buffalo. Nolan said Reinhart might have been overwhelmed at the start of the season and needed to observe a game. ... Neuvirth was off the ice first.

Who's hot: Getzlaf has points in five of his first six games. ... Beleskey has four goals in six games for his fastest start in goals and points (four). ... In the Ducks' most recent game, Oct. 19 against the St. Louis Blues, Vatanen became the sixth defensemen in Anaheim history to score two power-play goals in a game.

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