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Sabres Gionta to make season debut vs. Panthers

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SABRES (1-2-0) at PANTHERS (2-1-0)

TV: MSG-B, BELL TV, FS-F

Buffalo Sabres captain Brian Gionta will make his season debut Thursday against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., according to the Buffalo News.

Gionta missed the first three games of the season because of a lower-body injury. He reportedly will play right wing on a line with center Jack Eichel and left wing Evander Kane.

"You’ve got two talented guys with speed. It could be a great setup," Gionta said, according to the Buffalo News. "You want to find him [Kane] open. He's a shooter. He's going to take shots. Obviously Eichel, great vision, great speed, all-around game. For myself it's just trying to get to the net for those guys, create some things off the forecheck, help them out in that manner."

A forward will come out of the lineup but Sabres coach Dan Bylsma would not say who.

The Panthers will stick with the same lineup it used in a 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, according to the Miami Herald, with one exception. Roberto Luongo, who was the backup Tuesday, will start against the Sabres. Luongo is 14-6-0 with a 1.81 goals-against average and .940 save percentage in 23 games against the Sabres.

This season he's allowed two goals on 72 shots in two games.

"I know he's a guy who said he's going to keep it to two or less," Bylsma told the Buffalo News. "That's what he believes and that's what he pretty much does for this team every night he plays."

Here are the projected lineups:

SABRES

Ryan O'Reilly - Zemgus Girgensons - Tyler Ennis

Evander Kane - Jack Eichel - Brian Gionta

Nicolas Deslauriers - David Legwand - Marcus Foligno

Matt Moulson - Sam Reinhart - Jamie McGinn

Josh Gorges - Rasmus Ristolainen

Mike Weber - Cody Franson

Jake McCabe - Mark Pysyk

Chad Johnson

Nathan Lieuwen

Injured: Robin Lehner (ankle), Zach Bogosian (lower body)

Scratched: Anton Lander, Carlo Colaiacovo

PANTHERS

Jaromir Jagr - Aleksander Barkov - Jonathan Huberdeau

Brandon Pirri - Nick Bjugstad - Reilly Smith

Jussi Jokinen - Dave Bolland - Vincent Trocheck

Connor Brickley - Derek MacKenzie - Quinton Howden

Aaron Ekblad - Brian Campbell

Erik Gudbranson - Willie Mitchell

Alex Petrovic - Dmitry Kulikov

Roberto Luongo

Al Montoya

Injured: None

Scratched: Steven Kampfer, Shawn Thornton, Dylan Olsen

Status report: Lander, Legwand and Reinhart alternated at center on the bottom two lines during the morning skate. … Bogosian practiced Thursday wearing a non-contact jersey. He is traveling with the Sabres with the hope he'll be able to play at some point during the current four-game road trip.

Who's hot: Moulson had one goal and two assists in a 5-3 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets for his first points of the season. … Jagr has 42 goals and 98 points in 43 games against the Sabres.

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