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game preview

Panthers at Sabres preview

Florida has won six of eight; Buffalo playing first game without injured Olofsson

by Heather Engel / Independent Correspondent

PANTHERS (21-14-5) at SABRES (18-17-7)

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


The Game

The Buffalo Sabres will play their first game without forward Victor Olofsson when they face the Florida Panthers at KeyBank Center on Saturday.

Olofsson, who leads NHL rookies with 16 goals and 35 points, will be out 5-6 weeks after sustaining a lower-body injury in the third period of a 3-2 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. 

Rasmus Asplund is expected to replace Olofsson on the top line for the Sabres, who are 1-4-0 in their past five games and 2-6-1 in their past nine.

The Panthers, who are coming off a 6-3 win against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, have won six of their past eight games and are 9-for-29 (31 percent) on the power play during that span.


Players to watch

Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau has 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in his past eight games.

Sabres forward Sam Reinhart has 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 19 games against the Panthers. 


They said it

"They're a team that you've got to respect. Jack Eichel's playing as good as anyone in the League right now; we've got to be aware of him. We've got to do a better job with the puck against this team. We've got to get more inside like we've talked about the last couple of games. I thought we did a better job of that [on Thursday]. We're going to need that [Saturday]." -- Panthers coach Joel Quenneville

"My philosophy is if they give you a chance, it's because you've done something good. If you start changing up what you've been doing, I just think that's the wrong thing to do. So I just tried to play my game [Thursday] with Jack [Eichel] and Sam [Reinhart]. I will try to do it [Saturday] again." -- Sabres forward Rasmus Asplund


Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov -- Evgenii Dadonov

Brett Connolly -- Vincent Trocheck -- Noel Acciari

Frank Vatrano -- Brian Boyle -- Mike Hoffman

Colton Sceviour -- Dominic Toninato -- Mark Pysyk

Keith Yandle -- Aaron Ekblad

Riley Stillman -- Anton Stralman

Mike Matheson -- Josh Brown

Sergei Bobrovsky

Chris Driedger

Scratched: Denis Malgin, Jayce Hawryluk

Injured: MacKenzie Weegar (upper body)


Sabres projected lineup

Rasmus Asplund -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart 

Jimmy Vesey -- Marcus Johansson -- Conor Sheary

Zemgus Girgensons -- Johan Larsson -- Kyle Okposo

Curtis Lazar -- Scott Wilson

Jake McCabe -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Rasmus Dahlin -- Colin Miller

Henri Jokiharju -- Brandon Montour

Zach Bogosian

Linus Ullmark

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Evan Rodrigues, Dalton Smith

Injured: Victor Olofsson (lower body), Jeff Skinner (upper body), Tage Thompson (upper body), Vladimir Sobotka (lower body)


Status report

Eichel did not practice Friday but coach Ralph Krueger said it was a maintenance day "due to minutes played" (23:56 against Edmonton; 25:13 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday). … Wilson was recalled from Rochester of the American Hockey League on Friday. 


Stat pack

Eichel has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in his past 10 games against the Panthers, including a goal and two assists in a 5-2 win on Nov. 24. … Barkov has 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 20 games against the Sabres. … Huberdeau needs one goal to pass Nathan Horton (142) for sixth in Panthers history.

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