Zach Bogosian and Patrick Kaleta will be ready to go as the Buffalo Sabres prepare to take on the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday at First Niagara Center.
Bogosian has missed the past six games with a lower-body injury while Kaleta has not played since Feb. 10 following surgery to remove a bone chip from his knee.
He’s tried to leave a strong impression on the organization both on and off the ice and will try to close out the final nine games of the season on a positive note.
“Any time you sit out, it’s tough. You never want to sit there and watch. You always want to be on the ice and play, but sometimes that’s the way it goes,” he said. “I feel good right now and just try to have a good strong finish to the season.”
The Tops Game Night pregame show begins at 6:30 p.m. on MSG-B and Bell with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
STARTING IN GOAL
The Sabres will turn to Matt Hackett in net. He made 40 saves in a loss to Nashville on Saturday and would have likely played on Monday if not for some soreness in his knee.
Nolan liked what he saw from Hackett and said the goaltender has actually looked better now than at any point in the past year and a half.
“He was a little bit more composed and a little bit more positionally aligned,” Nolan said. “He was coming out of his crease much better.”
Hackett will square off against Arizona’s Mike Smith.
Mikhail Grigorenko found himself skating on the second line Monday night in Dallas. The 20-year-old center played between Marcus Foligno and captain Brian Gionta and helped set up Buffalo’s first goal.
Nolan has seen Grigorenko make progress over the past few games and has noticed that he’s played with a bit more purpose.
“The first two he did OK, not great for a young guy who has to step up a notch or two to prove that he can play at this level. But last game, he showed signs of it,” Nolan said.
Grigorenko has enjoyed playing with Foligno and Gionta and is trying to take advantage of the present opportunity. He’s also trying to consistently work hard so he can stay in the good graces of the coaching staff, which he admitted has been tough on him sometimes.
“Everyone wants to see me succeed in this organization. Everyone has their ways and Teddy, he thinks being hard on me is only going to help me,” Grigorenko said. “It looks like since I’ve been back, I’ve been playing the best I’ve played this year. I guess it worked so I’m glad he was hard on me.”
The first power-play unit has produced four goals in the past five games and to give the second unit a little bit of a jump, Grigorenko will get some special teams time against the Coyotes. That unit, also consisting of Foligno, Bogosian, Cody Hodgson and Andrej Meszaros, worked on a few things toward the end of the morning skate. Grigorenko was one of the last players off the ice.
“I took a couple one-timers there. They put me on the power play there, so I just wanted to make sure the one-timer’s there and hopefully I’m going to take a couple shots during the game,” he said.
Jerry D’Amigo will likely miss the rest of the season after he had facial surgery on Wednesday to repair damage caused by a high stick to the mouth on Saturday.
26 Matt Moulson – 22 Johan Larsson – 63 Tyler Ennis
82 Marcus Foligno – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 12 Brian Gionta
20 Zac Dalpe – 84 Philip Varone – 19 Cody Hodgson
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 37 Matt Ellis – 36 Patrick Kaleta
61 Andre Benoit – 47 Zach Bogosian
6 Mike Weber – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
51 Nikita Zadorov – 41 Andrej Meszaros
31 Matt Hackett
35 Anders Lindback