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At the Rink: Sabres at Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- When the Buffalo Sabres face the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on Monday, they could be without leading scorer Tyler Ennis, who missed the morning skate because of an illness.

Ennis, who leads the Sabres with 39 points (21 assists), became ill Monday morning, but Buffalo coach Ted Nolan remains optimistic Ennis will be able to play against Dallas.

"He woke up not feeling really good today, maybe a touch of the flu or whatever it is. Sent him back to the hotel. Hopefully he'll be ready to go tonight," Nolan said.

Buffalo (20-45-7, 47 points) will be without right wing Jerry D'Amigo, who took a stick to the face late in a 3-0 loss at the Nashville Predators on Saturday night, an infraction that earned Nashville center Craig Smith a $5,000 fine.

D'Amigo returned to the ice later in the third period Saturday with a full cage but will not play Monday.

The Sabres recalled center Tim Schaller from Rochester of the American Hockey League to take D'Amigo's spot on the left side of the third line alongside center Mikhail Grigorenko and Cody Hodgson.

Schaller has 40 points (25 assists) in 58 games in the AHL this season and two points in 13 games with the Sabres.

Should Ennis be able to play, Schaller would be the only change Nolan makes to his forward lines. The defensive pairings will be identical to the Nashville game.

Nolan admitted he considered starting goalie Matt Hackett, who made 40 saves against the Predators, for a second straight game, but Anders Lindback will start after being first off the ice at the morning skate.

"Yeah, we thought about [it]," Nolan said. "Definitely we felt the way he played we'd come right back with him. Unfortunately, he's still a little sore from that game, so we'll give him a day to recover and put him in probably next game."

Dallas (34-28-10, 78 points) has won two straight, including a 4-0 shutout Saturday of the Chicago Blackhawks. Stars coach Lindy Ruff is keeping his forward lines and defensive pairings identical from that victory.

Ruff wants to see a similar performance in the final game of a four-game homestand, on which Dallas is 2-1-0 thus far.

"We have to play our best defensive game," Ruff said. "Can't be a loose team and you have to be a highly motivated team to do all the little things right inside the game to win this."

Goalie Kari Lehtonen was first off the ice after morning skate and will start a seventh consecutive game for Dallas.

The Stars are eight points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card spot into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

"We have to keep winning," Dallas rookie defenseman John Klingberg said. "We can't look at the other teams that keep winning. We just have to take it game by game, period by period. We just have to think about that. There's nothing more that we can do."

Here are the projected lineups:

SABRES

Matt MoulsonJohan LarssonTyler Ennis

Marcus FolignoPhilip VaroneBrian Gionta

Tim SchallerMikhail GrigorenkoCody Hodgson

Nicolas DeslauriersMatt EllisZac Dalpe

Mike WeberRasmus Ristolainen

Nikita ZadorovAndrej Meszaros

Andre BenoitTyson Strachan

Anders Lindback

Matt Hackett

Injured: Zach Bogosian (lower body), Jerry D'Amigo (face), Zemgus Girgensons (foot), Josh Gorges (lower body), Chad Johnson (lower body), Patrick Kaleta (lower body), Evander Kane (shoulder surgery), Cody McCormick (blood clot).

Scratched: none.

STARS

Jamie BennCody EakinTyler Seguin

Antoine RousselJason SpezzaAles Hemsky

Curtis McKenzieShawn HorcoffBrett Ritchie

Patrick EavesVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

Alex GoligoskiJyrki Jokipakka

Patrik NemethJohn Klingberg

Jordie BennJason Demers

Kari Lehtonen

Jhonas Enroth

Injured: Trevor Daley (lower body), Valeri Nichushkin (hip).

Scratched: Ryan Garbutt, Travis Moen.

Status report: D'Amigo's injury means he will miss his first game after playing in the previous nine. … Garbutt is a healthy scratch for a second consecutive game and for a fifth time in the past six games.

Who's hot: Moulson has 12 points (seven goals) in 10 career games against Dallas. Larsson has six points (three goals, three assists) in his past seven games. … Lehtonen is 5-1-0 with a 1.50 goals-against-average and a .940 save percentage in his past six games.

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