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Wild go for fourth straight win, visit Sabres

Zucker likely to return for Minnesota

by Dan Myers / Correspondent

WILD (30-25-10) at SABRES (26-31-8)


Season series: Brian Gionta had a goal and an assist to help the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-2 win against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Jan. 12. Ryan Suter had a goal and an assist for Minnesota. 

Wild team scope: Forward Jason Zucker was activated off injured reserve and is expected to play for the first time since missing six games after sustaining a concussion against the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 21. Interim coach John Torchetti said Zucker could slot back onto a line with Mikael Granlund and Thomas Vanek, the same line he was on before getting hurt. "We'll see what happens," Torchetti told the Wild's website. "I like the speed, and it brings another asset to our team. Getting [Jonas] Brodin back, getting Zach [Parise] back a couple of games ago, it just keeps improving our team speed, and will make us play a faster game." Minnesota will try for its fourth consecutive victory, which would match a season long. It would be the second such streak since Torchetti took over for Mike Yeo on Feb. 13. 

Sabres team scope: Gionta did not practice on Friday but is expected to play. The 37-year old has eight goals and 23 points in 62 games but coach Dan Bylsma said his absence at practice was simply a maintenance day. The Sabres worked Johan Larsson into Gionta's spot on the team's top power-play unit, something Bylsma said could be a change regardless of Gionta's status. "We have used Larsson in that spot before," Bylsma told the Sabres website, "so we worked him there [Friday] in the absence of Brian. But not necessarily just because of that." Goalteder Robin Lehner will start. Lehner ended a personal four-game losing streak by making 26 saves in a 6-3 win against the Calgary Flames on Thursday.

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