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Canadiens at Sabres preview

Gallagher set to return for Montreal; Hutton to start for Buffalo

by Heather Engel / Independent Correspondent

CANADIENS (22-22-7) at SABRES (22-21-7)

7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, MSG-B, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV


The Game

Brendan Gallagher will return to the lineup for the Montreal Canadiens when they face the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Thursday.

The forward, who has 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists) in 41 games, missed the past six games with an upper-body injury for Montreal, which went 4-2-0 in that stretch.

Defenseman Marco Scandella will return to face the Sabres for the first since he was traded to the Canadiens on Jan. 2.

Buffalo will play its first game without goalie Linus Ullmark, who is out 3-4 weeks with a lower-body injury he sustained in a 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. Carter Hutton, who is 0-7-4 in his past 12 games, will start for the third time in the past 20 games.


Players to watch

Canadiens forward Tomas Tatar has five points (one goal, four assists) in his past four games.

Sabres forward Sam Reinhart has 11 points (six goals, five assists) in his past nine games.


They said it

"It's going to be fun, it's going to be competitive. I'm sure everyone's going to want to say, 'Hi.' It's an important game for both teams, so we've got to come in ready, and that's what I'm focusing on." -- Canadiens defenseman Marco Scandella

"You just work hard. We find different things to chip away at, kind of build your game. It's been a bit of a rollercoaster this year, obviously. Some stuff that goes on behind the scenes. You try to stick with it. It's such a long season, right? For me, nothing changes. I've been doing this for a while now. Just excited to get in there and play. It's the same game. Nothing really changes." -- Sabres goalie Carter Hutton


Canadiens projected lineup

Tomas Tatar -- Phillip Danault -- Brendan Gallagher 

Ilya Kovalchuk -- Nick Suzuki -- Joel Armia

Ryan Poehling -- Max Domi -- Artturi Lehkonen

Nick Cousins -- Nate Thompson -- Dale Weise

Ben Chiarot -- Shea Weber

Marco Scandella -- Jeff Petry

Victor Mete -- Brett Kulak

Carey Price

Charlie Lindgren

Scratched: Jordan Weal, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Cale Fleury

Injured: Paul Byron (upper body), Jonathan Drouin (wrist)


Sabres projected lineup

Zemgus Girgensons -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart 

Jeff Skinner -- Marcus Johansson -- Michael Frolik

Jimmy Vesey -- Curtis Lazar -- Kyle Okposo

Conor Sheary -- Johan Larsson

Lawrence Pilut -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Rasmus Dahlin -- Brandon Montour

Jake McCabe -- Henri Jokiharju

Colin Miller 

Carter Hutton

Jonas Johansson

Scratched: Zach Bogosian, Evan Rodrigues

Injured: Linus Ullmark (lower body), Victor Olofsson (lower body), Tage Thompson (upper body), Vladimir Sobotka (lower body)


Status report

Domi is expected to play and Lehkonen could return for Montreal after each missed the past two practices due to illness. … Buffalo will warm up with 12 forwards and seven defensemen and scratch one after.

Stat pack

Okposo is one point shy of 500 in the NHL. … Eichel has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his past 11 games. … Skinner has gone his past 12 games without a goal and has two assists in that span. … Danault has five points (one goal, four assists) in his past four games. … Gallagher has scored 14 goals against Buffalo, his most against any NHL team.

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