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Panthers at Sabres preview

Eichel day to day with upper-body injury for Buffalo; Florida seeks seventh win in nine games

by Heather Engel / Correspondent

PANTHERS (17-15-6) at SABRES (21-13-6)

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


The Game

Jack Eichel will not be in the Buffalo Sabres lineup when they host the Florida Panthers at KeyBank Center on Thursday.

The Sabres center sustained an upper-body injury in a 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday. The Buffalo captain is day to day, will also miss the game at the Boston Bruins on Saturday and will be re-evaluated next week, Buffalo coach Phil Housley said.

The Sabres, looking to avoid their fourth straight loss, are 0-2-1 in their past three games and 1-4-1 in their past six. 

The Panthers, seeking their third consecutive win, are 6-2-0 in their past eight games following a four-game losing streak (0-3-1). 

Florida has won seven straight against Buffalo, outscoring the Sabres 27-11 during that stretch.


Players to watch

Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo is 8-2-0 in his past 10 games at KeyBank Center, with a 1.71 goals-against average and .942 save percentage.

Sabres forward Jeff Skinner has eight points (six goals, two assists) in his past seven games against the Panthers.


They said it

"In the beginning of the season, we were finding ways to lose. Now we're finding ways to win. That's a good sign and says a lot about your team at this time of the year." -- Panthers coach Bob Boughner

"It's still the same game. Maybe you focus a little bit more defensively, might have some better offensive matchups but other than that, it's still hockey, it's still the same game I've been playing all year. I'm just going to go out and play my game." -- Sabres forward Evan Rodrigues on centering the top line in Jack Eichel's absence


Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov -- Evgenii Dadonov

Frank Vatrano -- Henrik Borgstrom -- Mike Hoffman

Denis Malgin -- Jared McCann -- Troy Brouwer

Colton Sceviour -- Juho Lammikko -- Jayce Hawryluk

Keith Yandle -- Aaron Ekblad

Mike Matheson -- Mark Pysyk

Bogdan Kiselevich -- MacKenzie Weegar

Roberto Luongo

James Reimer

Scratched: Micheal Haley, Chris Wideman

Injured: Jamie McGinn (back), Derek MacKenzie (shoulder), Vincent Trocheck (ankle), Nick Bjugstad (upper body)


Sabres projected lineup

Jeff Skinner -- Evan Rodrigues -- Sam Reinhart

Conor Sheary -- Vladimir Sobotka -- Tage Thompson

C.J. Smith -- Johan Larsson -- Kyle Okposo

Remi Elie -- Casey Mittelstadt -- Jason Pominville

Jake McCabe -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Marco Scandella -- Rasmus Dahlin

Lawrence Pilut -- Zach Bogosian

Linus Ullmark

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Matt Hunwick, Nathan Beaulieu

Injured: Jack Eichel (upper body), Zemgus Girgensons (upper body), Casey Nelson (upper body), Scott Wilson (ankle)


Status report

Wideman participated in his first full practice with the Panthers on Wednesday after being acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday, but won't face the Sabres. The defenseman is definitely going to get his chance," Boughner said.


Stat pack

Yandle is two points away from 500 in his NHL career. … Ekblad's next goal will tie him with Robert Svehla (61) for most goals by a defenseman in Panthers history. … Reinhart has 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in his past 16 games.

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