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At the Rink: Sharks at Sabres

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres will go for their fourth straight win Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CSN-CA, MSG-B, BELL TV) against a San Jose Sharks team they've had great success against.

The Sabres are home for the first time since sweeping a two-game trip to Florida with a 4-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday and a 3-2 win against the Florida Panthers on Thursday.

With a win Saturday, the Sabres (8-8-0) would go above .500 for the first time since Jan. 24, 2013.

"We wanted to get to .500 on our last [road] trip and we've done that," Sabres forward Tyler Ennis said. "Now we keep moving. We keep getting better every day and we keep trying to climb up the standings."

The Sabres have won eight straight against the Sharks, who have won once ever in Buffalo, on Dec. 2, 2005. The Sabres are 16-1-0 all-time at home against the Sharks.

"Right now with this team, we have a lot of confidence in knowing that we can win and knowing that we can keep hanging into games," Sabres forward Marcus Foligno said. "If we're down by a goal it's never, 'Uh-oh, here we go again.' It’s, 'Let's go after it, let's keep going.' Guys are positive on the bench. I think guys just jelled well on this team and in this dressing room."

The Sabres' recent success comes on the heels of back-to-back 30th place finishes in the NHL standings. However, a few wins this season hasn't given anyone a reason to start slowing down now.

"It's a much better feeling to be winning and to win five of six and to go on the road and win two," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "But I'm much more focused on our response and dealing with that success and coming back here and being ready to play a game. We've gotten to .500 but that's not where we want to be. We can't be satisfied with here and take a seat; we have to keep moving forward."

Sabres forward Nicolas Deslauriers may return to the lineup Saturday. He was a healthy scratch against the Florida Panthers on Thursday and replaced by Tim Schaller. Bylsma said his lineup would be a game-time decision.

"In big portions of what made [Deslauriers] an option to take out of the lineup was just how he played away from the puck," Bylsma said. "Some of the decisions he made and responsibilities away from the puck and he was not hard enough to play against. That's a big part of his game and what he's got to bring and what's expected of him when he gets in the lineup."

Bylsma said defenseman Mike Weber underwent knee surgery and will be out 2-6 weeks. He was injured against the Vancouver Canucks on Nov. 7. Carlo Colaiacovo has played in his place.

Chad Johnson will start in goal. He made 30 saves against the Lightning on Tuesday in his last start.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said Defenseman Mirco Mueller would replace Matt Tennyson and that Jones will start in goal.

Here are the projected lineups:


Melker Karlsson - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Nikolay Goldobin - Patrick Marleau - Joel Ward

Joonas Donskoi - Tomas Hertl - Tommy Wingels

Matt Nieto - Chris Tierney - Mike Brown

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon - Mirco Mueller

Martin Jones

Alex Stalock

Injured: Logan Couture (broken leg)

Scratched: Micheal Haley, Ben Smith, Matt Tennyson


Matt Moulson - Ryan O'Reilly - Brian Gionta

Jamie McGinn - Jack Eichel - Tyler Ennis

Johan Larsson - Zemgus Girgensons - Sam Reinhart

Marcus Foligno - David Legwand - Nicolas Deslauriers

Josh Gorges - Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe - Mark Pysyk

Carlo Colaiacovo - Cody Franson

Chad Johnson

Linus Ullmark

Injured: Mike Weber (knee), Zach Bogosian (lower body), Evander Kane (knee), Cody McCormick (blood clot)

Scratched: Tim Schaller

Status Update: Bogosian practiced Saturday. He missed most of training camp and has not played this season because of a lower-body injury. Bylsma did not have a timetable for his return but said Bogosian is "going in the right direction," and hopefully would be ready soon.

Who's Hot: Ristolainen has three goals and two assists in the past three games. … Franson has two goals and one assist in the past two games. … Ennis has four assists the past four games. … Braun has assists in two straight games.

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