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Blues vow not to overlook struggling Sabres

by Louie Korac / NHL.com

SABRES (3-11-2) at BLUES (9-4-1)

TV: NBCSN

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues are aware of the Buffalo Sabres' problems.

However, when the Blues and Sabres match up Tuesday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN), St. Louis (9-4-1) will not look past Buffalo (3-11-2), which is last in the NHL in a plethora of categories.

When it comes to the Sabres, they're last in the League in points (eight), goals scored (18) and goals-per-game average (1.12).

The Sabres have scored more than two goals in a game once; they've scored one or fewer in 10 of 15 games and have been shut out five times.

The Blues, who had their seven-game winning streak snapped Saturday against the Nashville Predators, don't care.

"All the players have been around here for a long time and we know those games, they are the hardest games to play in," Blues center Patrik Berglund said. "We know it's going to be a really hard-fought game. We've got to play them the same way as we do other teams. They want to get in here and knock us off. We've got to give them an honest game."

The Sabres have one regulation victory among their three, and Blues coach Ken Hitchcock points to that one win as an eye-opener, a 2-1 victory against the San Jose Sharks.

"I watched Buffalo beat San Jose (2-1 in San Jose)," Hitchcock said. "I also watched Carolina, who a week ago was struggling and now are off and running. You never know when a team's starting point is. Everybody in the League is pretty equal skill-wise. It's just when is your starting point. Some teams never get out of the box. It's a struggle all year. Some teams just need a kick and they get going out of the starting box. To me, we just don't want to be that team that starts Buffalo down that positive path.

"… Everybody calls it a trap game. It's only a trap game if you don't pay respect to the opponent."

The Blues will be without Ryan Reaves on Tuesday after the fourth-line right wing was hit on the ankle by a Barret Jackman shot during practice Monday. Also, T.J. Oshie (concussion) took part in the optional skate Tuesday after a full work day on Monday, but Hitchcock said Oshie is "not ready, not close."

For Sabres right wing Chris Stewart, there won't be much in terms of what it will take to motivate him to face his former teammates.

Stewart, who was part of the trade last season that brought goalie Ryan Miller to St. Louis, was with the Sabres when they played against the Blues, but he was not in the lineup because of an ankle injury. So this will be his first go at his former teammates after spending parts of four seasons in St. Louis, where Stewart had 63 of his 116 career goals and 52 of his 112 career assists.

"It's always a little weird playing against your former team," Stewart said. "I think it's exciting. It's an easy game definitely to get up for. We've got a lot to prove. We got shelled last game and we've got to come out with the right mentality."

The Sabres will get a boost with the return of forward Marcus Foligno, who missed four games with an upper-body injury. Forward Patrick Kaleta (jaw) is not quite ready.

"He tells me he's 100 percent," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said of Foligno. "[Kaleta] got clearance the other day. … He'll wait his turn."

Here are the projected lineups:

SABRES

Matt Moulson - Zemgus Girgensons - Tyler Ennis

Nicolas Deslauriers - Cody Hodgson - Drew Stafford

Marcus Foligno - Cody McCormick - Chris Stewart

Brian Flynn - Torrey Mitchell - Brian Gionta

Josh Gorges - Tyler Myers

Nikita Zadorov - Rasmus Ristolainen

Mike Weber - Tyson Strachan

Michal Neuvirth

Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: Andre Benoit, Andrej Meszaros

Injured: Patrick Kaleta (jaw)

BLUES

Alexander Steen - Paul Stastny - David Backes

Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Steve Ott - Patrik Berglund - Joakim Lindstrom

Chris Porter - Maxim Lapierre - Magnus Paajarvi

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Barret Jackman - Ian Cole

Brian Elliott

Jake Allen

Scratched: Jordan Leopold, Dmitrij Jaskin

Injured: T.J. Oshie (concussion), Ryan Reaves (ankle)

Status report: The Sabres toyed with the idea of moving Stafford into the middle, but Nolan said Hodgson has been good on faceoffs and will leave him at center. … With Reaves out of the lineup for the Blues, Paajarvi steps into his spot on the fourth line. Ott and Porter switched spots on the third and fourth lines, respectively.

Who's hot: Tarasenko has eight points during a five-game point streak (five goals). Lehtera has five points (four assists) during a four-game point streak.

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