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Conacher to debut for Sabres against Blackhawks

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO – Cory Conacher will make his Buffalo Sabres debut when they host the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Conacher was picked up on waivers Wednesday from the Ottawa Senators, but hasn't been able to play due to visa issues. With those problems taken care of, Conacher, who played hockey at Canisius College in Buffalo, will make his first start with the Sabres at home.

"It's nice to be back here," Conacher said. "Ever since I came here with Canisius, it was a city I fell in love with pretty quick. It's close to home for me, so I probably have a lot of tickets to account in some of these games."

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said Conacher will start on a line with Tyler Ennis.

Conacher's arrival comes at a good time for the Sabres as they have injuries throughout the lineup. Forwards Zemgus Girgensons, Chris Stewart and Torrey Mitchell are all out for the game against the Blackhawks and may miss time beyond that.

"All three are going to be out for, I think the earliest we'd get them back is a week," Nolan said. "I think Girgensons and Mitchell are the first two slated to come back. Stewart could be a bit longer. But you never know how injuries heal, but those two will be the quickest."

Defenseman Alexander Sulzer is also banged up and will sit out against the Blackhawks. Chad Ruhwedel was recalled on an emergency basis Saturday and will take Sulzer's spot on the blue line.

Jhonas Enroth was the first goalie off at morning skate and will likely get the start.

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane will have a homecoming of his own Sunday. Kane, who grew up in Buffalo, is playing in his first game at First Niagara Center since Oct. 11, 2010, and playing in his hometown means a lot to him.

"It's fun," Kane said. "I think I've played here three times in my career, so it's something that will happen every year from here on out, but up until this year it feels like we haven't played here in a while. It's exciting being back home, seeing some family and friends last night, and playing in front of them tonight. It's probably one of the first things I look for when the schedule comes out, when we're playing Buffalo and where the game is at, if it's Buffalo or Chicago. It's good to be back."

In Kane's three games in Buffalo he has two goals and an assist. His last goal in his hometown came in that game in 2010.

The Blackhawks will have defenseman David Rundblad in the lineup for the first time. Rundblad was acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes on March 4.

"I think every day since he's been here I see him picking up his tempo of his game," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Now that you're playing a game-game it'll be real good to see him out there, we'll see how he does. Hopefully he can look like he's comfortable out there and he can help us."

Rundblad will take Michal Rozsival's place on the third defensive pairing and work alongside Nick Leddy.

Corey Crawford was the first goalie off at morning skate and will likely start for Chicago.

Here are the projected lineups for the Blackhawks and Sabres:


Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsAndrew Shaw

Patrick SharpMichal HandzusPatrick Kane

Bryan BickellPeter ReginKris Versteeg

Brandon BolligMarcus KrugerBen Smith

Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook

Johnny OduyaNiklas Hjalmarsson

Nick LeddyDavid Rundblad

Corey Crawford

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Michal Rozsival, Sheldon Brookbank,

Injured: Marian Hossa (upper body), Nikolai Khabibulin (IR – shoulder)


Cory ConacherTyler EnnisDrew Stafford

Marcus FolignoCody HodgsonNicolas Deslauriers

Brian FlynnVille LeinoMatt D'Agostini

John ScottZenon KonopkaMatt Ellis

Tyler MyersHenrik Tallinder

Christian EhrhoffMike Weber

Jamie McBainChad Ruhwedel

Jhonas Enroth

Michal Neuvirth

Scratched/Injured: Chris Stewart (lower body), Torrey Mitchell (foot), Zemgus Girgensons (undisclosed), Alexander Sulzer (undisclosed)

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