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Oilers at Sabres preview

Ristolainen returns for Buffalo, which has lost seven straight; backup goalie Brossoit starts for Edmonton

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

OILERS (8-12-2) at SABRES (5-13-4)



The Game

The Buffalo Sabres will have defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen back in the lineup when they face the Oilers at KeyBank Center on Friday, when they try to end a seven-game losing streak (0-5-2).

Ristolainen missed nine games with an upper-body injury sustained Nov. 2 against the Arizona Coyotes but returned to his spot on the first defense pairing with Marco Scandella at the morning skate. Ristolainen has played 13 games and leads the NHL in average time on ice with 27:09.

The Oilers will start backup Laurent Brossoit because No. 1 goaltender Cam Talbot is sick. Coach Todd McLellan said defenseman Oscar Klefbom, who has the flu, will be a game-time decision.

Robin Lehner will start for the Sabres.


Players to watch

Oilers center Connor McDavid has six points (one goal, five assists) during a three-game point streak.

Sabres center Jack Eichel has a goal and an assist in his past two games.


They said it

"We're trying to string wins together. We found ways to string losses together. So that's what you've got to do; you've got to put together a streak here and get ourselves back in it." -- Oilers captain Connor McDavid

"I think we work hard, we tried, but sometimes maybe less is more and we need to try to talk and try to play it simple and sometimes during the 60 minutes there's some tough moments for sure. We just need to battle through those." -- Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen about what he learned while he was sidelined with an upper-body injury


Oilers projected lineup

Milan Lucic -- Connor McDavid -- Drake Caggiula

Patrick Maroon -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Leon Draisaitl

Jujhar Khaira -- Ryan Strome -- Jesse Puljujarvi

Michael Cammalleri -- Mark Letestu -- Zack Kassian

Darnell Nurse -- Adam Larsson

Kris Russell -- Yohann Auvitu

Matt Benning -- Eric Gryba

Laurent Brossoit

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Iiro Pakarinen

Injured: Oscar Klefbom (flu), Andrej Sekera (knee), Anton Slepyshev (groin)


Sabres projected lineup

Evander Kane -- Jack Eichel -- Jason Pominville

Benoit Pouliot -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Sam Reinhart

Jordan Nolan -- Jacob Josefson -- Kyle Okposo

Zemgus Girgensons -- Johan Larsson -- Kyle Criscuolo

Marco Scandella -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe -- Victor Antipin

Nathan Beaulieu -- Justin Falk

Robin Lehner

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Matt Moulson, Seth Griffith, Josh Gorges

Injured: Taylor Fedun (lower body), Matt Tennyson (foot), Zach Bogosian (lower body)


Status update

Gryba will dress if Klefbom doesn't play. … The Sabres sent defenseman Casey Nelson to Rochester of the American Hockey League to make room for Ristolainen.


Stat pack

Draisaitl is two assists shy of 100 in the NHL. … Okposo has 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 10 games against the Oilers.

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