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Preview: Panthers at Sabres

Defensemen Mark Pysyk, Dmitry Kulikov to play former teams after offseason trade

by Joe Yerdon / NHL.com Correspondent

PANTHERS (3-3-1) at SABRES (1-3-2)

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

 

Panthers team scope

The Florida Panthers have lost four of the past five games, including the first two games of a four-game road trip. Goalie Roberto Luongo will make his second straight start after a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. Defenseman Mark Pysyk will play his first game against the Buffalo Sabres since he was traded to them for defenseman Dmitry Kulikov on June 25. Pysyk was a first-round pick (No. 23) by the Sabres in the 2010 NHL Draft and played 125 games with them. "This is where it started," Pysyk said Friday. "It's a little bit different. We got into the hotel last year at training camp where I stayed for a couple months, so it's a little bit weird, but it's good to be back." Pysyk has one goal in his first seven games with the Panthers and has averaged 15:32 per game. "He's played real good hockey," coach Gerard Gallant said. "I didn't know a whole lot about him; he's young in his career, but he's been outstanding. Him and [Alex] Petrovic are playing very good for us right now and they're doing a great job."

 

Sabres team scope

Buffalo is looking to end a three-game losing streak. Goalie Anders Nilsson likely will make his third consecutive start in place of Robin Lehner (stomach illness). Lehner practiced Friday and said he isn't likely to play. Coach Dan Bylsma did not say who would start. Kulikov faces the Panthers for the first time after he played the first seven seasons of his NHL career for Florida. He was chosen by the Panthers in the first round (No. 14) of the 2009 NHL Draft. "Playing for them for so many years and now being on the opposite side, it'll definitely be weird," Kulikov said. "I had a great time in Florida, but it's all over now. I'm focused only on the Buffalo Sabres right now, getting a win, getting our team back on track with a win." The Sabres have scored one goal in two games at KeyBank Center and will have rookie right wing Hudson Fasching on the second power-play unit in place of Derek Grant to try to give their offense a spark. "I think Hudson deserves a bigger opportunity and a bigger role in putting him at the net-front on the power play," Bylsma said.

 

Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Marchessault -- Aleksander Barkov -- Jaromir Jagr

Colton Sceviour -- Vincent Trocheck -- Reilly Smith

Jared McCann -- Denis Malgin -- Shane Harper

Derek MacKenzie -- Greg McKegg -- Shawn Thornton

Keith Yandle -- Aaron Ekblad

Michael Matheson -- Jason Demers

Mark Pysyk -- Alex Petrovic

Roberto Luongo

James Reimer

Scratched: Kyle Rau, Steven Kampfer

Injured: Jonathan Huberdeau (Achilles), Nick Bjugstad (hand), Jussi Jokinen (lower body)

 

Sabres projected lineup

Matt Moulson -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Kyle Okposo

Marcus Foligno -- Johan Larsson -- Brian Gionta

Zemgus Girgensons -- Sam Reinhart -- Tyler Ennis

Nicolas Deslauriers -- Derek Grant -- Hudson Fasching

Josh Gorges -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Dmitry Kulikov -- Zach Bogosian

Jake McCabe -- Cody Franson

Anders Nilsson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Casey Nelson

Injured: Jack Eichel (left high ankle sprain), Evander Kane (cracked ribs)

 

Status report

Rau and McKegg rotated at center at practice Friday; one of them may be scratched and Thornton would play his first game of the season. … Lehner said he likely will start against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday at MTS Centre.

 

Who's hot

Marchessault has a four-game point streak (three goals, three assists). … Harper has two goals and an assist in the past three games. … O'Reilly has three goals and three assists in six games. … Ristolainen has six assists in six games.

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