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Sabres' Kane eager for return against Blue Jackets

Buffalo left wing to face Columbus after one-game suspension

by Craig Merz / NHL.com Correspondent

SABRES (23-28-7) at BLUE JACKETS (23-28-7)

TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG-B, BELL TV, FS-O, NHL.TV 

COLUMBUS - Evander Kane is ready to move on from his one-game suspension imposed by the Buffalo Sabres and continue his recent goal-scoring prowess. 

Kane sat the 2-1 loss at the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday for oversleeping and missing practice the morning before. He had attended the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto on Sunday night without letting the organization know. 

He has since apologized to his teammates and the left wing will be in the lineup Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. 

"I'm looking forward to getting back on the ice and doing what I love to do," he said after the morning skate. "It was a mistake I made. I take full responsibility for it. I want to make sure it doesn't happen again and move forward from here." 

He will play with center Ryan O'Reilly and right wing Sam Reinhart.  

"In the last four or five games that line's been together, the speed of Evander has been a bonus," Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma said. "It's opened up the ice a little bit for Ryan and Reinhart." 

Prior to the suspension, Kane had four goals in four games and eight in 13 games. 

"I haven't been out that long," he said. "I want to keep that train rolling, produce even more." 

In 47 games, Kane is fourth on the Sabres with 16 goals, one shy of the lead. 

"He's got a dangerous shot," O'Reilly said. "His ability to escape, playing against any defense, provides that danger. He gets guys back on their heels and creates that room. It's nice to have him back." 

Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella has the luxury of using the same lineup for the third straight game. 

In fact, the only change the past six games was when defenseman David Savard returned from injury two games ago and replaced Cody Goloubef.  

The stability is paying off with a 4-0-2 record and a 6-1-3 mark since Jan. 22. 

"When I feel we have some balance within the lines, we're sustaining some forecheck and playing well defensively and it's just working, we'll keep them together," Tortorella said. "I like what our lineup is right now as far as defensive pairs and our four lines." 

Tortorella is known for scrambling lines during games to look for sparks, but he hadn't much need the past three games. 

"When you can get the same lineup and you're playing well, you get streaks going, get confidence in the group and you're playing the right way," left wing Scott Hartnell said. 

Rookie goalie Joonas Korpisalo will make his 11th straight start. He is 8-2-4 with a 2.17 goals against average and a .934 save percentage in 14 games (13 starts) since Jan. 9 and has allowed two or fewer goals in 11 of those games. 

Here are the projected lineups: 

SABRES 

Evander Kane - Ryan O'Reilly - Sam Reinhart 
Jamie McGinn - Jack Eichel - Zemgus Girgensons  
Marcus Foligno - Johan Larsson - Brian Gionta  
Matt Moulson - David Legwand - Nicolas Deslauriers  

Josh Gorges - Rasmus Ristolainen  
Jake McCabe - Zach Bogosian  
Mark Pysyk - Cody Franson  

Robin Lehner  
Chad Johnson  

Injured: Cody McCormick (blood clots), Tyler Ennis (upper body) 
Scratched: Mike Weber, Carlo Colaiacovo  

BLUE JACKETS 

Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson  
Scott Hartnell - Alexander Wennberg - Brandon Saad  
Matt Calvert - William KarlssonNick Foligno  
Kerby Rychel - Gregory Campbell - Rene Bourque  

Seth Jones - Ryan Murray  
David Savard - Jack Johnson  
Dalton Prout - Fedor Tyutin  

Joonas Korpisalo 
Curtis McElhinney  

Scratched: Justin Falk, Jared Boll, Cody Goloubef 
Injured: Sergei Bobrovsky (groin), David Clarkson (upper body) 

Status report: Marcus Foligno took a stick to the face during practice Friday and lost two teeth but is expected to play. The Sabres sent Dan Catenacci to Rochester of the American Hockey League on Friday. He missed three games with a concussion but practiced Thursday for the first time since the injury. 

Who's hot: Eichel has a goal and two assists in three games. Marcus Foligno has a point (1-4) in each of his past five games against Columbus. … Jones has four assists in five games and 10 in his past 14. 

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