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Sabres' Stafford returning to lineup

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres will get forward Drew Stafford back in the lineup against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday.

The 28-year-old forward sustained an upper-body injury Jan. 25 against the Columbus Blue Jackets and has missed the past four games.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Stafford said. "We'll see how it goes. I'm anxious to get back and try to pick up where I left off when I came out last time."

Stafford had five points in four games before getting hurt against the Blue Jackets and has 18 points in 46 games this season. He'll be on the top line with Tyler Ennis and Linus Omark.

Omark was acquired in a trade from the Oilers on Dec. 19 and has been a healthy scratch the past three games.

"His game is very simple," interim coach Ted Nolan said of Omark. "He's a skill guy but he has to do something. When you don't produce and you don't play with the puck or without the puck we've got trouble so we just need him to do better."

Forwards Zenon Konopka and Ville Leino will sit out in favor of Stafford and Omark. Rookie defenseman Chad Ruhwedel will be scratched in favor of Alexander Sulzer. Jhonas Enroth will start in goal.

The Oilers head into the game against the Sabres with three wins in their past 10 games (3-6-1).

"It's been crappy, plain and simple," Oilers forward Jordan Eberle said. "Last year we had a decent season as a team and were in the playoff hunt with two games left. This year it's been a complete 180. Obviously you want to build on what you did last year and we really thought we had the team to create something and move forward and be in the hunt, but that hasn't happened. Anytime you don't reach those goals it's frustrating. The season in a nutshell, in one word, it's been frustrating."

The Oilers will make one change to their lineup against the Sabres. Forward Jesse Joensuu will play and Ryan Jones will be scratched.

"That was a tough conversation this morning," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "A lot of times taking a guy out of the lineup is actually quite easy. The player always makes the decision and it's always his play and I think [Jones] has played very well of late. He's gotten involved physically, he's been doing a fairly good job on our penalty kill, but Jesse's upped his play as well."

Ilya Bryzgalov will start in goal for Edmonton.

Here are the probable lineups for Buffalo and Edmonton on Monday:


Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Nail Yakupov - Sam Gagner - David Perron

Matt Hendricks - Boyd Gordon - Ales Hemsky

Luke Gazdic - Ryan Smyth - Jesse Joensuu

Nick Schultz - Justin Schultz

Martin Marincin - Jeff Petry

Andrew Ference - Mark Fraser

Ilya Bryzgalov

Ben Scrivens

Scratched: Ryan Jones, Corey Potter, Anton Belov

Injured: Philip Larsen (illness)


Linus Omark - Tyler Ennis - Drew Stafford

Steve Ott - Cody Hodgson - Matt D'Agostini

Marcus Foligno - Zemgus Girgensons - Brian Flynn

John Scott - Philip Varone - Matt Ellis

Tyler Myers - Henrik Tallinder

Christian Ehrhoff - Alexander Sulzer

Mike Weber - Jamie McBain

Jhonas Enroth

Ryan Miller

Scratched: Chad Ruhwedel, Zenon Konopka, Ville Leino

Injured: Matt Moulson (upper body), Cody McCormick (lower body)

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