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game preview

Sabres at Avalanche preview

Simmonds will debut for Buffalo, Namestnikov to play first game with Colorado

by Rick Sadowski / Independent Correspondent

SABRES (29-25-8) at AVALANCHE (36-18-7)

8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS


The Game

Wayne Simmonds will debut for the Buffalo Sabres against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Wednesday.

Simmonds, traded to Buffalo by the New Jersey Devils on Monday, will play right wing on a line with left wing Jeff Skinner and center Marcus Johansson. He has 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists) in 61 games and is two from 500 in the NHL.

The Sabres have won two straight games, are 5-1-0 in their past six and 7-3-1 in their past 11. They're sixth in the Atlantic Division and 10 points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

Vladislav Namestnikov will debut for Colorado at left wing with center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and right wing Martin Kaut after he was traded by the Ottawa Senators on Monday. He has 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in 56 games.

The Avalanche have won three in a row and are 8-2-1 in their past 11. They're third in the Central Division, one point behind the second-place Dallas Stars.


Players to watch

Sabres center Jack Eichel has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his past eight games.

Avalanche goalie Pavel Francouz is 3-0-1 with a 1.46 goals-against average, .941 save percentage and his first NHL shutout in his past four games.


They said it

"I thought that I could be a piece that could ultimately help this team get into the playoffs. I'm extremely excited to be here, and I can't wait to get started." -- Sabres forward Wayne Simmonds 

"It's a great team, a contending team, and I'm happy to be here. I'm kind of a two-way forward, responsible in my own zone and I can chip in offensively. I'll do everything it takes to help." -- Avalanche forward Vladislav Namestnikov


Sabres projected lineup

Victor Olofsson -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart

Jeff Skinner -- Marcus Johansson -- Wayne Simmonds

Jimmy Vesey -- Curtis Lazar -- Michael Frolik

Zemgus Girgensons -- Johan Larsson -- Kyle Okposo

Brandon Montour -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Rasmus Dahlin -- Colin Miller

Jake McCabe -- Henri Jokiharju

Carter Hutton

Jonas Johansson  

Scratched: John Gilmour

Injured: Dominik Kahun (lower body), Linus Ullmark (lower body), Tage Thompson (upper body), Vladimir Sobotka (lower body)


Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Valeri Nichushkin

Tyson Jost -- J.T. Compher -- Joonas Donskoi

Vladislav Namestnikov -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Martin Kaut

Logan O'Connor -- Vladislav Kamenev -- Mark Barberio

Ryan Graves -- Cale Makar

Samuel Girard -- Erik Johnson

Ian Cole -- Nikita Zadorov

Pavel Francouz

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: None

Injured: Andre Burakovsky (upper body), Matt Calvert (lower body), Nazem Kadri (lower body), Philipp Grubauer (lower body), Matt Nieto (upper body), Mikko Rantanen (upper body), Colin Wilson (lower body)


Status report

Kahun, a forward, took part in an optional skate and could play against the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday. He was traded to Buffalo by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday. … Barberio, a defenseman, will play right wing on the fourth line.


Stat pack

Okposo has five points (four goals, one assist) in a four-game point streak. … MacKinnon has 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in his past 14 games. … Jost will play his 200th NHL game.

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