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Johnson starts in net as Sabres host Devils

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Chad Johnson will make his first start of the season in net for the Buffalo Sabres when they host the New Jersey Devils at KeyBank Center on Monday afternoon. Johnson's start comes on the heels of a 6-3 loss to the New York Islanders in which he allowed one goal on 16 shots in relief of Robin Lehner.

Sabres coach Phil Housley said it was always the plan to get Johnson a start early in the season. After Monday, the Sabres won't play again until they begin a four-game road trip in San Jose on Thursday.

"We looked at the schedule and we wanted to get him a game early," Housley. "The plan was not to have Robin pulled so early in the second period, but we felt Chad had a good outing and he's going to start today for us."

Video: Preview: NJD @ BUF (10/9/17)

As for the rest of the lineup, Housley said there will be no changes from the loss in New York. The Sabres stressed execution at practice on Sunday, and Housley felt it appropriate to give his lineup a chance to respond against the Devils.

"I just think our battle level has to be better," he said. "I think a lot of it comes down to the 1-on-1 battles. I thought we weren't heavy on our sticks, we weren't winning the puck battles, so we talked about it and addressed that. I think they're going to be ready to go today."

Coverage on Monday begins at 2:30 p.m. with GMC Gamenight on MSG-B, or you can listen live on WGR 550. The puck drops at 3 p.m.


Scouting the Devils

After watching New Jersey's 4-1 victory to open the season against Colorado, Housley said one thing became clear: These aren't the same old Devils. New Jersey's roster includes eight players aged 23 or under, and with that youth has come a fast-paced style of play. 

"They sort of changed in a direction where, the old New Jersey Devils used to clog it up and be tough to play against and it was a pretty boring game," Housley said. "If you've watched their last game, they're pretty dynamic. They've got a lot more speed and skill up front so we have to be aware of that."

Three Devils made their NHL debuts in the win over Colorado on Saturday: defenseman Will Butcher (three assists), forward Jesper Bratt (one goal, one assist) and No. 1 overall pick Nico Hischier (six shots). They join a young core that also includes top-line centerman Pavel Zacha (age 20) and the defensive pair of Mirco Mueller and Steven Santini, both 22. 

New Jersey will have to rely on its youth even more given the absence of Kyle Palmieri and Drew Stafford, both of whom will miss the game with lower-body injuries. 

The Devils got the bulk of their offense in their opener from a 3-for-4 night on the power play. Their net-front presence had an impact on all three goals: Adam Henrique scored on a tip, Jimmy Hayes netted his goal on a rebound and even Bratt's goal - a well-placed shot to the far-side corner - came with two Devils in the crease.

New Jersey will be tasked with scoring against a Buffalo penalty kill that is 7-for-7 to open the season.


Housley pregame

Video: Phil Housley Pregame (10/9/17)


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