SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks injured forward Brent Burns will miss his seventh straight game Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres, but he took another step forward in his recovery from a head injury.
Burns took part in the Sharks' morning skate at SAP Center at San Jose, going through team drills for the first time in 16 days.
Burns was injured Oct. 12 against the Ottawa Senators when he was hit in the face by a high-stick by goaltender Robin Lehner, losing a number of teeth. Burns played three more games but has been sidelined since Oct. 19.
"That's a great step," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of Burns' return to team drills. "I don't know if you're going to qualify it as little or big, but getting closer, feeling better, back out there with his teammates. I didn't know who he was when he came out because he doesn't look the same, but it's nice to see him out there."
Burns had his long hair cut short and his bushy beard shaved last week in a charity fundraiser. He also had some major dental work done, eliminating the huge gap in his teeth.
The Sharks have missed Burns' size, energy and power, but on paper they are huge favorites to beat the Sabres even without him.
The Sharks (10-1-3) have 23 points, third-most in the NHL, and lead the League in goals (53) and goal differential (plus-26). The Sabres (2-13-1) have a League-low five points and are tied for 28th in goals (26) and last in goal differential (minus-23).
San Jose will try to snap a season-long two-game winless skid. The Sabres will try to snap a season-long four-game skid and win their third game of the season.
"The paper doesn't mean anything," McLellan said. "We can post standings all we want in there, we can talk about any type of stat you want. You can always make it work your way as a coach for or against you. It's not played on paper. The most important paper will be the one that shows up on our desk after the game. That will be our approach. We got our work cut out for us [Tuesday]. I think from what I've seen I don't believe their record justifies their game. They've played well lately and they look like they're getting more and more confidence. So throw the paper out the window."
The Sabres are 2-5-0 on the road. To former Sharks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, a three-game West Coast road trip gives Buffalo a chance to regroup.
"Our home record (0-8-1) has definitely been pretty bad so far," Ehrhoff said. "It's definitely good for us to get on the road a little bit. We got together Sunday night as a team and had a nice dinner and got to hang out together. This will only help us in moving forward."
Sabres center Marcus Foligno has had a couple rough games, but he convinced coach Ron Rolston to keep him in the lineup with a strong practice Monday. Foligno will center the second line between Steve Ott and Corey Tropp.
"He's got a lot of character," Rolston said. "He's a future leader for us. He's a player that takes a lot of pride in his game. He knows where he's at right now or where his last couple games have been. It's up to him at that point to take advantage of the opportunity he's been given, which has been quite a bit for us. So I expect him to bounce back [Tuesday]."
Here are the projected lineups for Buffalo and San Jose:
Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Tyler Kennedy
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Marty Havlat
Tommy Wingels - Joe Pavelski - Matthew Nieto
James Sheppard - Andrew Desjardins - Mike Brown
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Brad Stuart - Dan Boyle
Scott Hannan - Jason Demers
Scratched: John McCarthy, Matt Irwin
Injured: Brent Burns (head), Raffi Torres (knee surgery), Adam Burish (back surgery)
Matt Moulson - Cody Hodgson - Tyler Ennis
Steve Ott - Marcus Foligno - Corey Tropp
Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Brian Flynn
Ville Leino - Cody McCormick - Drew Stafford
Christian Ehrhoff - Mark Pysyk
Henrik Tallinder - Tyler Myers
Jamie McBain - Rasmus Ristolainen
Scratched: Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Zadorov
Injured: Mike Weber (thumb), Joel Armia (broken hand)
Suspended: John Scott