With Linus Ullmark sidelined due to a lower-body injury, the Buffalo Sabres will turn to Carter Hutton in net against the Montreal Canadiens tonight at KeyBank Center.
It will be Hutton's first start since Jan. 11, a 6-3 loss to Vancouver. Ullmark had started 18 of the team's past 20 games before sustaining his injury during the third period against Ottawa on Tuesday.
Hutton started the season 6-0-0 with two shutouts but has gone winless since, though he has taken the team to overtime in four of those 11 outings. His last victory came on Oct. 22 against San Jose.
Sabres coach Ralph Krueger continued to express confidence in the veteran's ability to rise to the occasion with Ullmark expected to miss three to four weeks.
"We had some off nights in front of him and I felt bad about that the last couple of times," Krueger said. "I believe it's now just a very small picture here about today and he's worked really hard in the last while. [Assistant coach] Mike Bales has done some specific work with him off ice, on ice, everywhere, and we're optimistic that he's ready for this challenge."
Video: PREGAME: Krueger
The Sabres are looking to bounce back from a 5-2 loss in their last game, which opened a stretch in which they play nine of 10 games at home. It was also their first game back from a 10-day break encompassing their bye week and All-Star Weekend.
"We're back at it," Krueger said. "Yesterday, you could feel it already in practice, in meetings today, and everybody's back in the routine and we feel poised for a good game tonight."
The team will warm up with 12 forwards and seven defensemen and reveal the lineup then. Buffalo went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen Tuesday, with Zach Bogosian and Evan Rodrigues scratched.
Scouting the Habs
The Canadiens returned from the break with a 4-2 loss to Washington on Monday. They are tied with the Sabres with 51 points, although the Sabres have a game in hand.
Montreal will have reinforcements in the form of forward Brendan Gallagher, who is expected to return from a six-game absence stemming from post-concussion symptoms. Gallagher ranks second on the team with 15 goals and has 14 goals in 27 career matchups with the Sabres. Max Domi, who is recovering from the flu, is also expected to play.
Carey Price will start in net, while defenseman Marco Scandella will make his first return to Buffalo since being sent to Montreal as part of a series of trades that led to the Sabres acquiring Michael Frolik earlier this month.
Krueger said he expects a tight game, with both teams vying to make up 10-point deficits in the standings.
"When you have tough times, how do you react to that? How do you grow in that time? Right now, I feel some good growth going on here and I'm sure we're going to come up with a good game here tonight as will Montreal," he said. "We're expecting a very tight, one-goal game here with two teams very hungry to have people smiling around them more than criticizing them."
Jack Eichel scored his career-high 29th goal of the season Tuesday. If he scores again tonight, he will become the first Sabres player to record 30 goals and 30 points in the same season since Jason Pominville (30+43) in 2011-12.
Coverage on MSG begins at 6:30 p.m. You can also listen to the game on WGR 550, with puck drop scheduled for 7.