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Girgensons returns to lineup in Columbus

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

COLUMBUS - After missing the last three games with a lower-body injury, Zemgus Girgensons will be back in the lineup for the Buffalo Sabres when they face the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Wednesday night. 

Girgensons has been absent since blocking a shot off his leg during a penalty kill in Vegas on Oct. 17.

"It hurt pretty bad," he said. "It got me right where there's no padding on the side of the leg. I'm just happy it wasn't anything major and it didn't take me long to get back."

Video: Preview: BUF at CBJ (10/25/17)

Sabres coach Phil Housley said he doesn't expect the injury to deter Girgensons from blocking more shots going forward.

"He's that type of player," Housley said. "He's gritty. He's hard on the forecheck and he puts his body in harm's way on the penalty kill, so it's good to have him back."

Coincidentally, it's grit and physicality that Girgensons said has helped the Sabres win their last two games, including a 1-0 victory over Detroit on Tuesday night. 

"I think at the start of the season, we weren't that physical," he said. "Now you can see we were playing more body on them and just playing the right way, playing simple. The puck decisions have been key for us. That's what I saw so we've got to keep doing that."

It will be the second game of a back-to-back set for the Sabres, a situation they've found themselves in twice previously this season. They won on both occasions, in Anaheim and Boston, which Housley said is a testament to the Sabres' discipline and depth.

"I think we had to reach a little deeper in our lineup and roll four lines. I know in Boston we got in a really good rhythm, stayed out of the box," Housley said. "We've got to be disciplined in that area of the game. If we can get into a good rhythm, rolling four lines, I like our depth."

The Blue Jackets are coming off of back-to-back losses, falling most recently to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night. Artemi Panarin, acquired via trade with the Chicago Blackhawks during the offseason, leads the team with nine points (1+8). Rookie Sonny Milano leads with five goals.

Chad Johnson will start in net for the Sabres. In six career games against Columbus, he's 5-1-0 with a .928 save percentage.

Sergei Bobrovsky, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, is expected to start for the Blue Jackets.

The game will be televised nationally on NBCSN, with puck drop set for 8 p.m. Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray will call the game on WGR 550. 

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