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Preview: Red Wings at Sabres

Darren Helm returns for Detroit; Tyler Ennis back for Buffalo after one-game absence

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

RED WINGS (20-19-6) at SABRES (17-18-9)

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


Red Wings team scope

The Detroit Red Wings, who are on a three game winning streak, will have forward Darren Helm in the lineup against the Buffalo Sabres. Helm has been out since Nov. 15 and has missed the past 28 games with a shoulder injury. He will play on the fourth line with Luke Glendening and Justin Abdelkader. "I'm excited, it's been too long," Helm said. "Just watching every game, feeling like I could be out there and be part of the team and obviously that's what I want to be doing. I'm excited to finally get an opportunity to get back out there and I'm looking forward to it." Helm has four goals and three assists in 17 games this season. Thomas Vanek has a seven-game point streak (five goals, five assists) and will play one of his former teams. "Everybody in Buffalo knows [Vanek]'s a real talented player," coach Jeff Blashill said. "The thing he brings to our table is he's got size, we don't have lots of that type of size, and skill combination. He's scored goals, he's made plays. What I've liked about him is he's a big time winner."


Sabres team scope

Tyler Ennis will return to the lineup after missing a 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, one game after he made his return from a 30-game absence because of groin surgery with a goal in a 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Monday. "There's been a lot of frustration with [the groin]," Ennis said. "I feel like I still might not have that 100 percent jump, but it's going to come, I've just got to work through it." Anders Nilsson, who missed practice on Thursday with an illness, will start. Nilsson is 5-1-1 at home with a .947 save percentage and 1.84 goals-against average (he's 2-5-3 with a .905 save percentage and a 3.11 goals-against average on the road). "Numbers for goaltenders can go with teams, go home and road, can go teams on road, teams at home," coach Dan Bylsma said. "They can be misleading and they can be guiding sometimes when you have your starts and when you don't have your starts and how you feel about it and I don't know if they're legitimate." Sabres forward Matt Moulson will play in his 600th NHL game and defenseman Justin Falk will play in his 200th game.


Red Wings projected lineup

Gustav Nyquist -- Henrik Zetterberg -- Anthony Mantha

Andreas Athanasiou -- Frans Nielsen -- Thomas Vanek

Tomas Tatar -- Riley Sheahan -- Dylan Larkin

Justin Abdelkader -- Darren Helm -- Luke Glendening

Danny DeKeyser -- Mike Green

Alexey Marchenko -- Jonathan Ericsson

Xavier Ouellet -- Nick Jensen

Petr Mrazek

Jared Coreau

Scratched: Drew Miller, Steve Ott, Ryan Sproul

Injured: Niklas Kronwall (lower body), Brendan Smith (knee), Jimmy Howard (knee)

Sabres projected lineup

Tyler Ennis -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Kyle Okposo

Marcus Foligno -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart

Evander Kane -- Zemgus Girgensons -- Brian Gionta

Matt Moulson -- Cal O'Reilly -- William Carrier

Jake McCabe -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Zach Bogosian -- Cody Franson

Justin Falk -- Taylor Fedun

Anders Nilsson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Nicolas Deslauriers

Injured: Josh Gorges (hip), Johan Larsson (wrist), Dmitry Kulikov (lower back), Cody McCormick (blood clots)


Status report

Blashill said he's aiming for Kronwall to return to the lineup on Sunday when the Red Wings are at home against the New York Rangers. Mrazek will start for Detroit. … Kulikov continues to skate on his own.


Who's hot

Vanek has points in 11 of his past 12 games (seven goals, seven assists). ... McCabe and Okposo each have a goal and an assist on their two game point streaks.

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