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Flames' Gaudreau getting new linemates

Will skate with Bennett and Frolik when Calgary visits Buffalo

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

FLAMES (26-33-4) at SABRES (25-31-8)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, SN360, NHL-TV

BUFFALO -- The Calgary Flames will have forward Johnny Gaudreau on a new line when they face the Buffalo Sabres.

Gaudreau skated with Sam Bennett and Michael Frolik on Thursday morning. Gaudreau has been playing with Sean Monahan as his center for most of the season.

"That's something I want to try just to get another angle on our offense, on chemistry," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "See how things can work. It can last a few shifts, it can last a few games, it can last 'til the end of the season. We have no timetable on this, but at the same try, we've been playing fairly well the last couple of games but we have not been generating much. Just mix around the players a little bit and try to create an offensive spark."

Gaudreau is the Flames leading scorer this season with 24 goals and 63 points. He's 19 points ahead of Monahan and 23 points ahead of defenseman TJ Brodie for the team lead.

"They're both good players, good young players [Monahan and Bennett]," Gaudreau said. "Sammy is just trying to get into the role right now at center. We haven't been winning lately so we've got to, I guess, change things up a little bit. Me and [Monahan] have such great chemistry, so however long I'll be playing with [Bennett] it's going to be a learning experience for all of us."

Bennett has 15 goals and 31 points this season, but has played on the wing more often than at center.

"[Gaudreau] is obviously incredibly gifted in the offensive zone," Bennett said. "You've got to be aware; he's going to find you a lot more than most players in this League would be able to do. It's going to be a lot of fun and I'm excited to get the chance to play with him."

The Flames have lost six straight games and the line shuffle comes at a time when they need goals. Calgary has scored 12 goals during the losing streak.

"I think it's another game here, so I think we've got to adjust to that," Monahan said. "I think we've got to find a way to produce and every line has to do something different out there."

Goalie Jonas Hiller will start for Calgary.

The Sabres had an optional skate Thursday. Buffalo has lost four of the past five games and, like Calgary, has struggled to score. The Sabres have scored seven goals in the past five games and have been shut out twice.

Forward Sam Reinhart was moved back to right wing against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday after he played center for four games after Ryan O'Reilly left the lineup with a foot injury. Reinhart's original position is center but he leads the Sabres with 18 goals after playing mostly on the wing.

"Just really putting together a line I think can be our best line, putting [Reinhart] back at the wing with Jack (Eichel) at center and Evander (Kane) on the left," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "I probably think in the next 18 games he'll play a few more games at center. With Ryan out for probably a still more extended time period, we're probably going to see Sam there a little bit and I'd like to see him there a little bit in the next couple weeks, but I think he played his best at wing for us and [that's] where he's going to be tonight."

Goalie Robin Lehner will start for Buffalo.

Here are the projected lineups:

Johnny Gaudreau - Sam Bennett - Michael Frolik
Micheal Ferland - Sean Monahan - Joe Colborne
Lance Bouma - Mikael Backlund - Garnet Hathaway
Brandon Bollig - Matt Stajan - Josh Jooris

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie
Deryk Engelland - Dougie Hamilton
Jyrki Jokipakka - Jakub Nakladal

Jonas Hiller
Joni Ortio

Injured: Ladislav Smid (upper body), Karri Ramo (torn ACL)
Scratched: Niklas Backstrom

Evander Kane - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Marcus Foligno - Johan Larsson - Brian Gionta
Daniel Catenacci - Cal O'Reilly - Zemgus Girgensons
Nicolas Deslauriers - David Legwand - Matt Moulson

Josh Gorges - Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe - Zach Bogosian
Carlo Colaiacovo - Mark Pysyk

Robin Lehner
Chad Johnson

Injured: Cody Franson (neck), Ryan O'Reilly (right foot), Tyler Ennis (concussion), Cody McCormick (blood clot)
Scratched: None

Status report: Hartley said they haven't targeted a date when Backstrom might make his Flames debut. He was acquired from the Minnesota Wild on Monday in exchange for David Jones.

Who's hot: Frolik has a two-game point streak with a goal and an assist. … Lehner has made 100 saves on 105 shots he's faced in his past three starts.

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