COLUMBUS - Kyle Okposo will likely be absent from the lineup when the Buffalo Sabres meet the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at Nationwide Arena. Okposo is feeling under the weather and is expected to miss the game, according to Sabres coach Dan Bylsma.
If Okposo doesn't play, it will mean a return to the lineup for Nicolas Deslauriers, who's sat out the last five games as a healthy scratch. It's an appropriate time for Deslauriers to get back onto the ice, considering it him who jolted a comeback for the Sabres the last time these teams met.
That was in Buffalo on March 11, and the Sabres were trailing 3-0 when Bylsma put Deslauriers on the top line to begin the second period, looking for him to jolt some life into the team. Deslauriers fed Jake McCabe for a goal on that shift, and the Sabres stormed back to win 5-3.
"That was a substantial comeback from our group," Bylsma said. "I think how we came out in that second period is how we've played here in the last couple games and how we need to continue to play."
The Sabres have won four of their last five games, including wins in their last two games against Toronto and Florida. They've won on the strength of their power play - they're 4-for-5 in their last two games - but also by playing a smart, simple game with the puck.
"We played a much [more] responsible game with the puck and a simple game with the puck and it makes us a tough team to play against," Bylsma said. "That's what I think you've seen us the last couple games."
Sergei Bobrovsky will start in net for the Blue Jackets, coming off of a 36-save shutout of Philadelphia. He was riding a stretch of two straight shutouts when the Sabres visited Columbus on March 10. They got to him early in that game only to fall 4-3.
Anders Nilsson will start in net for the Sabres.
Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with the Tops Pregame Show on MSG-B, or you can listen live on WGR 550.
9 Evander Kane - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 63 Tyler Ennis
82 Marcus Foligno - 15 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
48 William Carrier - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 26 Matt Moulson
29 Jake McCabe - 77 Dmitry Kulikov
67 Brady Austin - 47 Zach Bogosian
4 Josh Gorges - 41 Justin Falk
31 Anders Nilsson
40 Robin Lehner