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Sabres at Coyotes preview

Raanta back in goal for Arizona; Buffalo hoping to end two-game losing streak

by Craig Morgan / Correspondent

SABRES (3-7-2) at COYOTES (1-11-1)

10 p.m. ET; FS-A, MSG-B, NHL.TV


The Game

Antti Raanta will start in goal for the Arizona Coyotes when they host the Buffalo Sabres at Gila River Arena on Thursday. Raanta has not played since sustaining a lower-body injury in the first period of a 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at Gila River Arena on Oct. 12.

The Sabres are trying to end a two-game losing streak (0-2-0). They haven't played since a 3-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks at KeyBank Center on Saturday.

Sabres defenseman Justin Falk will make his season debut after missing the first 12 games because of a lower-body injury.

Coyotes defenseman Dakota Mermis will make his NHL debut after he was recalled from Tucson of the American Hockey League on Wednesday. Mermis, 23, never was drafted and signed a three-year, entry-level contract July 1, 2015.


Players to watch

Sabres forward Jack Eichel has eight points (three goals, five assists) in four career games against the Coyotes. It's the most points he has against any Western Conference team.

Raanta has played 90:01 in three games this season because of two lower-body injuries. The Coyotes acquired Raanta in a trade with the New York Rangers on June 23 with the expectation that he could be their full-time starter.


They said it

"We can't worry about where they are as a team. We've got our own battles to handle." -- Sabres coach Phil Housley on playing the one-win Coyotes

"Playing knee-hockey in the basement, you dream of playing in the NHL. You dream of these moments." -- Coyotes defenseman Dakota Mermis on making his NHL debut


Sabres projected lineup

Evander Kane -- Jack Eichel -- Jason Pominville

Benoit Pouliot -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Kyle Okposo

Zemgus Girgensons -- Sam Reinhart -- Seth Griffith

Matt Moulson -- Johan Larsson -- Jordan Nolan

Marco Scandella -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe -- Matt Tennyson

Justin Falk -- Victor Antipin

Robin Lehner

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Nicholas Baptiste, Taylor Fedun

Injured: Justin Bailey (lower body), Nathan Beaulieu (upper body), Josh Gorges (lower body), Jacob Josefson (lower body), Zach Bogosian (lower body), Evan Rodrigues (hand)


Coyotes projected lineup

Brendan Perlini -- Derek Stepan -- Clayton Keller

Max Domi -- Christian Dvorak -- Christian Fischer

Jordan Martinook -- Nick Cousins -- Tobias Rieder

Zac Rinaldo -- Brad Richardson -- Anthony Duclair

Oliver Ekman-Larsson -- Jason Demers

Alex Goligoski -- Dakota Mermis

Kevin Connauton -- Luke Schenn

Antti Raanta

Scott Wedgewood

Scratched:  Mario Kempe , Adam Clendening, Louis Domingue

Injured:  Jakob Chychrun (knee), Niklas Hjalmarsson (lower body)


Status report

Bailey did not take part in the morning skate after missing practice Wednesday. He is day-to-day. … The Coyotes put Hjalmarsson on injured reserve and placed Clendening on waivers.


Stat pack

The Sabres are 6-2-0 in eight games at Gila River Arena, which opened during the 2003-04 season. … Coyotes forward Clayton Keller, the NHL's Rookie of the Month for October, has 11 points (six goals, five assists) during a seven-game point streak. He leads NHL rookies in goals (nine) and points (15).

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