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Preview: Devils at Sabres

Buffalo center Ryan O'Reilly likely to return; backup goalie Keith Kinkaid starts for New Jersey

by Joe Yerdon / NHL.com Correspondent

DEVILS (6-3-3) at SABRES (5-5-3)

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

 

Devils team scope

New Jersey Devils backup goaltender Keith Kinkaid will get his third start of the season in the opener of a home-and-home series; starter Cory Schneider is likely to play Saturday in Newark. Kinkaid is 1-0-1 with a 1.98 goals-against average and .937 save percentage in two starts this season. New Jersey is coming off a home-and-home sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes, winning 4-1 in Raleigh on Sunday and 3-2 in a shootout at Prudential Center on Tuesday. The combination of left wing Taylor Hall and center Travis Zajac has developed good chemistry. "[Hall] drives the play 5-on-5," coach John Hynes said. "I think if you take the special-teams element out of it and what he brings, he's one of the fastest players on the ice, he's extremely competitive, he's strong, he pushes the pace; whoever is on the ice with him, he pushes the pace speed-wise; that in turn helps our team want to play at that level also." Hall, acquired from the Edmonton Oilers on June 29, is pleased at how well he and Zajac have fit together. "I think [Zajac]'s been a guy that I've been really surprised at how he plays," he said. "He's a guy that plays a lot harder than I previously thought and he's been a great fit for the line that I've been playing on. He's so responsible defensively and he's always looking to make plays on offense. It's been a lot of fun." Hall, Zajac and defenseman Damon Severson share the team lead with nine points in 12 games.

Video: NJD@CAR: Kinkaid lays out for amazing pad save

 

Sabres team scope

The Buffalo Sabres are likely to have center Ryan O'Reilly back in the lineup after he missed a 2-1 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday with a mid-body injury. Coach Dan Bylsma said O'Reilly would be a game-time decision, but he participated and skated fully on Friday. "I felt really good and I feel 100 percent to go for tonight," O'Reilly said. "It was definitely something minor and I'm glad to be back tonight." Although O'Reilly is likely to be back, the Sabres will be without defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who is out with an unspecified injury. Buffalo recalled defenseman Justin Falk from Rochester of the American Hockey League to take his place. "He's a more veteran player with a more veteran mindset coming to the rink today," Bylsma said of Falk. "He's been through it before. I think he'll be ready to step in and contribute if called upon." Backup goalie Anders Nilsson is expected to play, with Robin Lehner returning Saturday. Buffalo is 1-3-1 at KeyBank Center this season and has scored six goals in five games. Although the Sabres have had plenty of scoring chances, they've been unable to covert most of them into goals. "If volume of shots means you're getting more volume of shots from the inside and Grade A opportunities and second chances, then we need more volume," Bylsma said. "But if more volume means just shooting the puck for the sake of shooting it … that's not necessarily where our focus needs to be."

Video: BUF@CGY: O'Reilly puts the Sabres back on top

 
Devils projected lineup

Taylor Hall -- Travis Zajac -- PA Parenteau

Pavel Zacha -- Adam Henrique -- Kyle Palmieri

Michael Cammalleri -- Jacob Josefson -- Beau Bennett

Sergey Kalinin -- Vernon Fiddler -- Nick Lappin

Andy Greene -- Damon Severson

Yohann Auvitu -- Ben Lovejoy

John Moore -- Kyle Quincey

Keith Kinkaid

Cory Schneider

Scratched: Devante Smith-Pelly, Reid Boucher

Injured: Luke Gazdic (broken left foot), Jon Merrill (broken right index finger)

 
Sabres projected lineup

Evander Kane -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Kyle Okposo

Matt Moulson -- Zemgus Girgensons -- Sam Reinhart

Marcus Foligno -- Johan Larsson -- Brian Gionta

William Carrier -- Derek Grant -- Nicholas Baptiste

Josh Gorges -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe -- Cody Franson

Justin Falk -- Casey Nelson

Anders Nilsson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Cole Schneider

Injured: Dmitry Kulikov (undisclosed), Tyler Ennis (groin), Zach Bogosian (MCL sprain), Nicolas Deslauriers (knee), Jack Eichel (left high ankle sprain), Cody McCormick (blood clots)

 
Status report

Smith-Pelly, who had eight goals and 13 points in 18 games with New Jersey after being acquired from the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 29, will be a healthy scratch for the third straight game. …Gorges didn't take part in the morning skate but is expected to play.

 
Who's hot

Zajac has one goal and three assists during a four-game point streak. He is one point away from 400 in his career. … Nilsson is 1-1-1 with one shutout and a .937 save percentage this season and is 4-1-0 in his career against New Jersey.

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