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Sabres to get Ryan O'Reilly back vs. Canadiens

Buffalo's leading scorer missed 11 games with broken foot

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

CANADIENS (32-32-6) at SABRES (28-33-9)

TV: 7 p.m. ET: SN, RDS, MSG-B, NHL.TV

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres will have forward Ryan O'Reilly back in the lineup when they host the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday at First Niagara Center.

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma confirmed O'Reilly will play Wednesday morning. O'Reilly missed 11 games with a broken right foot sustained in a 4-0 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Feb. 19.

"I don't think I've missed this much hockey to injury, so it's definitely weird coming back," O'Reilly said. "I think it was a good rest, even though I wasn't playing and I wasn't with the team as much, it was good to get away from the game and kind of regroup, and I think I've got that hunger back and I'll be back on the ice with that edge."

O'Reilly was a 2016 NHL All-Star and leads the Sabres in scoring with 49 points despite his injury absence. The Sabres held an optional skate Wednesday, but O'Reilly skated on a line with Evander Kane and Nicolas Deslauriers during practice this week.

"I think you do ease him back in, without a question," Bylsma said. "There are some areas I won't use him where I did prior to the injury. The penalty kill; I may use him as a faceoff guy on the penalty kill, not a regular on the penalty kill, but yeah, I would be surprised to see him get 22 minutes tonight or 21 and a half or whatever he was averaging before."

Kane skating with O'Reilly broke up the Sabres' first line that had been playing together since Feb. 27 with Kane on the left side of center Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart on the right wing. Zemgus Girgensons moves into that position with the Sabres rookies.

"It's a big opportunity here at the end of the season," Girgensons said. "With 12 games to go, I've got to show everything I've got. … You know what I bring to the table. I'll just forecheck, create space for those guys. They're two smart players and just kind of open up more ice for them."

Girgensons has five goals and nine assists this season, but had a two-goal game against the New York Rangers on Jan. 25 when he played on a line with Eichel.

"It's definitely exciting, he's an unbelievable player," Girgensons said. "It's always fun to play with that kid. … I think we played simple at that time and just put the pucks north and played a really simple game."

Robin Lehner will start in goal for Buffalo.

Forward Lars Eller and defenseman Nathan Beaulieu will return to the lineup for the Canadiens, who lost 4-1 to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. Eller missed the game against the Panthers with an illness. Beaulieu is returing from a lower-body injury. Goalie Ben Scrivens will get the start after Mike Condon made 32 saves against Florida.

Here are the projected lineups:

Max Pacioretty - Alex Galchenyuk - Sven Andrighetto
Paul Byron - Tomas Plekanec - Torrey Mitchell
Lars Eller - Michael McCarron - Lucas Lessio
Jacob De La Rose - Phillip Danault - Mike Brown

Andrei Markov - Mark Barberio
Alexei Emelin - Greg Pateryn
Victor Bartley - Nathan Beaulieu

Ben Scrivens
Mike Condon

Injured: P.K. Subban (neck), Carey Price (lower body), David Desharnais (broken left foot), Brendan Gallagher (lower body), Daniel Carr (knee), Jeff Petry (sports hernia surgery), Brian Flynn (lower body), Tom Gilbert (left knee)
Scratched: Stefan Matteau

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

Josh Gorges - Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe - Zach Bogosian
Carlo Colaiacovo - Mark Pysyk

Robin Lehner
Chad Johnson

Injured: Cody Franson (neck), Tyler Ennis (concussion), Jason Kasdorf (groin), Cody McCormick (blood clot)
Scratched: none

Status update: Eller takes the place of Matteau in the Canadiens lineup. Defenseman Darren Dietz was assigned to St. John's of the American Hockey League with Beaulieu returning. … The Sabres assigned forward Dan Catenacci to Rochester of the AHL.

Who's hot: Pacioretty has a five-game point streak in which he has a goal and six assists. Barberio has a three-game point streak with one goal and three assists. … Gionta has a goal and three assists during a three-game point streak. Kane has three assists during his two-game point streak. Eichel has five goals and two assists in the past six games.

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