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Weiss returns for Red Wings vs. injury-plagued Sabres

by Paul Harris

SABRES (13-18-3) at RED WINGS (17-8-9)


DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings are struggling to score goals and win games while the Buffalo Sabres are struggling just to ice a team.

Detroit (17-8-9) and Buffalo (13-18-3) play at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday.

The Red Wings have lost six straight (0-2-4) and have scored six goals in those games. The Sabres have eight players out with injuries and have been forced to call up five players (left wing Johan Larsson, center Mikhal Grigorenko, defenseman Mark Pysyk, center Tim Schaller and right wing Joel Armia) from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League since Saturday.

Detroit gets forward Stephen Weiss back from a shoulder injury, which caused him to miss four games.

The Red Wings had been 8-1-2 with Weiss in the lineup after he returned from missing a month because of nagging groin issues and being a healthy scratch.

"I don't think it has much to do with me," Weiss said. "I think for whatever reason we got on a little bit of a hot streak when I came back. Those things happen, whether I'm in the lineup or not in the lineup or we're missing whoever. It's up to the rest of the guys to pull up their boot straps and get it done.

"Sometimes you get hot and sometimes you struggle a bit. Right now we're struggling. Hopefully I can add a little bit of a spark tonight."

The Sabres are doing the best they can, considering the circumstances.

"You have to prepare for it as a team," Buffalo defenseman Josh Gorges said. "The young guys have to come through and we just have to find a way to keep things going."

Michal Neuvirth will start in goal for Buffalo. Coach Ted Nolan said Neuvirth, who played junior hockey with the suburban Detroit-based Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League, isn't completely recovered from the illness that forced him to miss the 4-3 overtime loss against the Boston Bruins on Sunday, but is well enough to play.

Backup goaltender Petr Mrazek will make his second consecutive start for Detroit because of Jimmy Howard's groin injury. Howard was placed on short-term injured reserve. He is expected to return in the game against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

"I had a good work day [Monday], I had another one [Tuesday]," Howard said. "I'll come down here and work out during the game and then I'll just work out over the (three-day) break. I'll get away from skating just like everyone else and just get ready here for after Christmas."

His injury isn't expected to linger.

"Better to miss one (game) than try to force in one and be out for 3-4 weeks," Howard said. "Just precautionary and pick up where we left off in Ottawa.

"That's the biggest key, just letting it rest. It wasn't that serious, just a tweak. I haven't had any setbacks, so it's nice and it's comforting."

Here are the projected lineups:


Joel Armia - Zemgus Girgensons - Tyler Ennis

Nicolas Deslauriers - Brian Flynn - Drew Stafford

Cody Hodgson - Mikhail Grigorenko - Chris Stewart

Johan Larsson - Tim Schaller - Patrick Kaleta

Josh Gorges - Rasmus Ristolainen

Nikita Zadorov - Mark Pysyk

Andre Benoit - Andrej Meszaros

Michal Neuvirth

Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: None

Injured: Mike Weber (knee), Brian Gionta (head), Torrey Mitchell (foot), Tyson Strachan (lower body), Matt Moulson (illness), Tyler Myers (lower body), Marcus Foligno (hand), Cody McCormick (lower body)


Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Justin Abdelkader

Tomas Tatar - Riley Sheahan - Tomas Jurco

Gustav Nyquist - Darren Helm - Johan Franzen

Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Stephen Weiss

Niklas Kronwall-Jonathan Ericsson

Danny DeKeyser-Kyle Quincey

Brendan Smith-Jakub Kindl

Petr Mrazek

Tom McCollum

Scratched: Joakim Andersson, Dan Cleary, Brian Lashoff

Injured: Jimmy Howard (groin)

Status report: Kaleta returns after missing the game Sunday because of illness. Nolan is looking for his makeshift lineup to step up. "You just have to look at it as an opportunity to do something special with a short bench," he said.

Who's hot: Schaller got his first NHL goal in the overtime loss to Boston on Sunday. … Mrazek has stopped 44-of-46 shots in 103:52 since taking over for Howard.

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