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BUFFALO OPENS BACK-TO-BACK SET WITH HOME GAME AGAINST COLORADO

by Chris Ryndak / Buffalo Sabres

Since Nov. 15, the Buffalo Sabres are 3-1 in games following a loss. They’ve only lost back-to-back games once during that stretch and have rattled off two three-game winning streaks and a four-game winning streak over that period of time.

After a defeat in Winnipeg on Tuesday, the team will look to pick up a victory Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche at First Niagara Center.

Buffalo is 10-4-0 in their past 14 games. They’ll look to win 11 of 15 for the first time since Feb. 29 to March 27, 2012. They're 8-1-0 in their past nine home games.

Knowing they’re capable of bouncing back quickly has helped improve the team’s spirits in the last month.

“It’s confidence. Confidence is everything right now,” center Zemgus Girgensons said after the team’s optional morning skate. “We’ve done it before and I hope we can do it tonight.”

Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. with the Tops Gamenight pregame show beginning at 6:30 p.m. on MSG-B. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.

“Wins and losses, you can’t get too high, too low on them,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “The process of how we’re going about our work, we have to get better and better all the time. Whether we win a game, we want to improve and whether we lose, we want to improve the next game. We just want to keep the process going.”

Jhonas Enroth will be in net for Buffalo, making his 11th start in the past 13 games. Buffalo has three games in the next four nights and Nolan indicated that it could be tough to take Enroth out based on his recent play.


LINEUP CHANGES
The Sabres will get Josh Gorges back on the blue line after he’s missed the past two contests with a finger injury.

Tyson Strachan did not skate for the third day in a row due to injury and will not play against Colorado.

Cody McCormick and Mike Weber took part in the morning skate but will not play. McCormick will miss his fourth-straight game with a lower-body injury while Weber is recovering from minor knee surgery performed on Dec. 12.

Both McCormick and Weber will travel with the team to Boston after the game. McCormick could possibly play Sunday night against the Bruins while Weber could make his return Tuesday night in Detroit.


CALL UP
With McCormick and center Torrey Mitchell out, the team has recalled Mikhail Grigorenko from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League to play against Colorado.

It’s been a busy week for Grigorenko. He skated for the Sabres on Tuesday in Winnipeg and re-joined the Amerks on Wednesday for a home game against Syracuse. He then played Friday night in Rochester before making the drive to Buffalo for the morning skate on Saturday.

He felt good about his game against Winnipeg and was assured by the coaching staff that as long as he keeps his work ethic up, he’ll become more and more comfortable on the ice as time goes on.

“I was a little nervous, couldn’t handle the puck a couple times, but it’s OK,” Grigorenko said. “It was my first game and I’m going to get better. The most important thing for me was I was competing out there.”

Nolan hopes to see him continue improving both with and without the puck. He’ll center a line with Cody Hodgson and Chris Stewart.

“You see the potential, that’s the biggest thing. You see how skilled he is and how he sees the ice,” Nolan said. “Obviously we’ve still got to get his game to the next level, but that’s what you see and the secret is trying to get that potential out of him and he can do that at this level.”


BUILDING CONSISTENCY
Marcus Foligno has been hot for Buffalo with four points (3+1) in his past four games. In three career games against the Avalanche, he has three goals.

Nolan has been happy with Foligno’s progression over the last little stretch and has noticed the 23-year-old forward has taken advice from captain Brian Gionta to heart.

“For the last 10 games or so, he’s steadily gotten better and better,” Nolan said. “He’s going to have his moments, but the steady improvements and the way he’s handling himself in practice, his preparation and he’s learning quite a bit from Gionta.

“We talk about modern-day stuff but what Gionta’s given him is the talk – always talking on the ice, being aware of how much time he has, what he can do with the puck and you learn so much from doing that. That’s why veteran leadership is so important.”


PROJECTED LINEUP
26 Matt Moulson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
21 Drew Stafford – 65 Brian Flynn – 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 82 Marcus Foligno – 36 Patrick Kaleta
19 Cody Hodgson – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 80 Chris Stewart

4 Josh Gorges – 57 Tyler Myers
51 Nikita Zadorov – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
61 Andre Benoit – 41 Andrej Meszaros

1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth

Injured: 8 Cody McCormick (lower-body), 17 Torrey Mitchell (lower-body), 24 Tyson Strachan (lower-body)
Injured Reserve: 6 Mike Weber (knee), 31 Matt Hackett (knee)

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