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At the Rink: Senators at Sabres

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres have won nine of their past 12 games and look to win their sixth straight at home when they face the Ottawa Senators on Monday.

The Sabres are coming off a 4-3 overtime win against the Florida Panthers on Saturday in which Josh Gorges and Andrej Meszaros each left with injuries. Each player skated Monday and may be back in against the Senators.

Gorges left in the third period after he injured his hand blocking a shot. Meszaros left in the second period after he took a puck off his chin from an Aaron Ekblad shot.

"I felt relatively good; good enough to play," Gorges said. "Now it's a matter of making sure there's doctor's clearance and there's no further damage."

Gorges admitted his hand "isn't 100 percent" but he's ready to play.

Sabres coach Ted Nolan said all seven of his healthy defensemen will skate in warm-ups and he'll make a decision on who plays afterwards. Gorges skated with Myers and Meszaros with Tyson Strachan on Monday. Strachan took a shot off the inside part of his right leg during a power-play drill but said he was "fine."

"It feels like the puck starts following me but in a different direction than I wanted it to," Meszaros said. "But hey, it's part of the game. It is how it is."

Jhonas Enroth was the first goalie off and will make his fourth consecutive start.

The Senators will have Milan Michalek back in the lineup against the Sabres. Michalek missed the past three games with an upper-body injury sustained against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 6.

"I feel good. I'm excited to be back," Michalek said. "I had some pretty hard bag skates so I'm happy to be back."

Michalek has two goals and six assists in 25 games. With the injury behind him he said he's looking to contribute more to the offense.

"I've been struggling so it's getting harder and harder," Michalek said. "But I'm hoping I can break through and can score a goal."

Michalek replaces Zack Smith after Smith was injured in a 3-2 shootout win against the Boston Bruins on Saturday. The Senators otherwise are going with the same lineup, which means defenseman Chris Phillips will be a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. Goalie Robin Lehner will start.

"You always fear that there might be a letdown from your team when things are going good," Senators coach Dave Cameron said. "The message today was we're going to have a bigger say in how we play, we're going to have a bigger say in how we come to the game than what Buffalo does. That's what we're going to focus on. How we have to play to give ourselves the better chance."

Here are the projected lineups:


Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Mark Stone

Mike Hoffman - Mika Zibanejad - Bobby Ryan

Colin Greening - David Legwand - Milan Michalek

Erik Condra - Curtis Lazar - Alex Chiasson

Mark Borowiecki - Erik Karlsson

Jared Cowen - Cody Ceci

Patrick Wiercioch - Eric Gryba

Robin Lehner

Craig Anderson

Scratched: Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Chris Phillips

Injured: Zack Smith (wrist), Marc Methot (back), Chris Neil (lower body)


Matt Moulson - Zemgus Girgensons - Tyler Ennis

Brian Flynn - Torrey Mitchell - Brian Gionta

Nicolas Deslauriers - Marcus Foligno - Drew Stafford

Chris Stewart - Cody Hodgson - Patrick Kaleta

Josh Gorges - Tyler Myers

Nikita Zadorov - Rasmus Ristolainen

Andrej Meszaros - Tyson Strachan

Jhonas Enroth

Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Andre Benoit

Injured: Mike Weber (knee), Cody McCormick (lower body)

Status report: Ennis was named NHL First Star of the Week. He had five points in three games and led the Sabres to a 3-0-0 record. … Pageau was recalled by the Senators on Sunday but will not play.

Who's hot: Aside from Ennis' hot play, Foligno has scored in two straight games. ... Ryan has one goal and four assists in his past five games and had the game-deciding shooting goal against the Bruins on Saturday.

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