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Preview: Red Wings at Sabres

Forward Ryan O'Reilly likely in for Buffalo; Detroit looks to end four-game losing streak

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

RED WINGS (8-10-1) at SABRES (7-8-4)

7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, FS-D+, NHL.TV

Red Wings team scope

The Detroit Red Wings have lost four straight games and will stick with goaltender Jimmy Howard against the Buffalo Sabres. Howard, who has started the past two games, is 4-5-0 with a 1.85 goals-against average and .940 save percentage this season, and is 7-0-1 in his career against the Sabres. He has bounced back after having the worst numbers of his NHL career last season. "I'm real happy for him," coach Jeff Blashill said. "It's just another great example of when a guy doesn't let other people's decisions affect him. … I think he's put his game in a spot where he's excelled and then every opportunity he got, he excelled. He's going to have bumps in the road, but I think his game's in a real good spot." Left wing Justin Abdelkader has one assist in his past six games and will skate on a line with rookie Anthony Mantha, who has a goal and an assist in his past three games. Mantha has played in four games since he was recalled from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League on Nov. 11. "The goal is to stay here [in the NHL], I won't lie about it," Mantha said. "I just need to be focused, be ready for every game, and show them what I can really do up here. Obviously that will help me out for my confidence." Defenseman Brendan Smith likely will be in the lineup after he was a healthy scratch the past two games.


Sabres team scope

The Sabres likely will get center Ryan O'Reilly back in the lineup when they try to win their third straight game. O'Reilly skated with Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo on Wednesday and was part of one of the power-play units. He missed the past five games with an oblique injury. "I feel great the last two days and back to 100 percent," O'Reilly said. "It'll be nice to get back out there. It feels like it's been forever." Coach Dan Bylsma did not confirm O'Reilly would play, saying he would be a game-time decision, but pointed out that he took part in line rushes, which likely means he'll play. "We're getting a lot back if we get Ryan back in the lineup in a lot of different areas," Bylsma said. "But it also has an effect of making our other lines a little bit deeper and does give us the chance to have the checking line with [Johan] Larsson tonight." Robin Lehner will make his second straight start.


Red Wings projected lineup

Thomas Vanek -- Dylan Larkin -- Gustav Nyquist

Justin Abdelkader -- Henrik Zetterberg -- Anthony Mantha

Tomas Tatar -- Frans Nielsen -- Luke Glendening

Steve Ott -- Riley Sheahan -- Tyler Bertuzzi

Niklas Kronwall -- Brendan Smith

Mike Green -- Danny DeKeyser

Jonathan Ericsson -- Ryan Sproul

Jimmy Howard

Petr Mrazek

Scratched: Xavier Ouellet, Drew Miller

Injured: Alexey Marchenko (upper body), Tomas Jurco (back), Andreas Athanasiou (knee), Darren Helm (shoulder)


Sabres projected lineup

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

Evander Kane -- Sam Reinhart -- Zemgus Girgensons

Marcus Foligno -- Johan Larsson -- Brian Gionta

Derek Grant -- Cal O'Reilly -- William Carrier

Josh Gorges -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe -- Cody Franson

Justin Falk -- Taylor Fedun

Robin Lehner

Anders Nilsson

Scratched: Cole Schneider

Injured: Dmitry Kulikov (lower back), Tyler Ennis (groin), Zach Bogosian (MCL sprain), Nicolas Deslauriers (knee), Jack Eichel (left high ankle sprain), Cody McCormick (blood clots)


Status report

Smith would replace Ouellet ... Eichel joined the Sabres for the morning skate. It was his first time on the ice with the rest of the team since Oct. 12. If O'Reilly plays, Schneider likely would be scratched.

Who's hot

Mantha has a goal and an assist in the past three games. Nyquist has two assists in the past three games. ... Fedun has four assists during a three game point streak.

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