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Preview: Sabres at Senators

Jack Eichel to make season debut for Buffalo; Ottawa in search of fifth straight victory

by Chris Stevenson / Correspondent

SABRES (7-9-5) at SENATORS (14-7-1)

7:30 p.m. ET; RDS2, TSN5, MSG-B, NHL.TV


Sabres team scope

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel will play his first game of the season after sustaining a high ankle sprain in practice Oct. 12. "Yeah, I'm looking forward to it," Eichel said. "I've been waiting for a while so it will be nice to play a game." The No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Eichel, 20, will skate on a line with Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart. After leading the Sabres with 24 goals last season, Eichel returns with Buffalo last in the NHL with 1.81 goals per game. Coach Dan Bylsma said Eichel's return will allow other players to assume roles more suited to their talents. "We've had the feeling the last two days in practice that you feel a lot better about where you're slotted, where you're playing and it's had an effect on our team," Bylsma said. "It's got to show up in the game, but it's had an effect on our team from an offensive standpoint." The Sabres have lost back-to-back games and are 2-5-3 in their past 10 games. Goaltender Robin Lehner is 2-0-2 with a .956 save percentage and a 1.30 goals-against average against the Ottawa Senators. The Sabres are 3-0-2 in their past five games against Ottawa.


Senators team scope

The Senators will go for their fifth consecutive win after allowing five goals in their previous four victories. Ottawa is 8-4-1 at home this season. Goaltender Craig Anderson, 4-0-0 with a 1.25 GAA in his past four starts, will start for the sixth straight game. Coach Guy Boucher said he is hoping to use the same lineup that defeated the New York Rangers 2-0 on Sunday. Since playing together Nov. 22 in a 4-3 win against the Montreal Canadiens, the line of Mike Hoffman, Derick Brassard and Mark Stone has combined for 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in the past four games. The Senators power play scored against the Rangers and is 2-for-11 in the past five games. The power play is 7-for-62 (11.3 percent efficiency), 29th in the League this season. The penalty kill is ranked fifth (86.2 percent).


Sabres projected lineup

Matt Moulson -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Kyle Okposo

Evander Kane -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart 

Marcus Foligno -- Johan Larsson -- Brian Gionta

Will Carrier -- Derek Grant -- Zemgus Girgensons

Josh Gorges -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe -- Cody Franson

Taylor Fedun -- Justin Falk

Robin Lehner

Anders Nilsson

Scratched: None

Injured: Tyler Ennis (groin), Nicolas Deslauriers (knee), Zach Bogosian (knee), Dmitry Kulikov (undisclosed), Cody McCormick (blood clots)


Senators projected lineup 

Ryan Dzingel -- Kyle Turris -- Bobby Ryan

Mike Hoffman -- Derick Brassard -- Mark Stone

Zack Smith -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau -- Tom Pyatt

Chris Kelly -- Curtis Lazar -- Chris Neil

Marc Methot -- Erik Karlsson  

Dion Phaneuf -- Cody Ceci  

Mark Borowiecki -- Chris Wideman

Craig Anderson

Mike Condon

Scratched: Fredrik Claesson, Max McCormick, Andrew Hammond

Injured: Clarke MacArthur (concussion)


Status report

The Senators recalled goaltender Andrew Hammond from Binghamton of the American Hockey League on Tuesday. Anderson is expected to leave Ottawa later this week to be with his wife, Nicholle, who is being treated for throat cancer.


Who's hot

Hoffman has a goal and four assists in his past four games. … Stone has three goals and two assists in his past four games.

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