GLENDALE, Ariz. – Matt D’Agostini seemed to be hitting his stride when he found himself forced out of the lineup.
An upper-body injury caused him to leave the Buffalo Sabres’ game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 15 after playing only 2:19.
He’s set to return Thursday night after missing the past six games when the Sabres take on the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena. Sabres fans in Western New York and Southern Ontario can watch the game at 9 p.m. on either MSG or Bell.
In the four games he played before the injury, D’Agostini recorded two goals and two assists while playing on a line with center Cody Hodgson and center Steve Ott.
Although he was happy that the points were finally starting to come for him, he was more pleased with the way his all-around game had started to take shape.
“It’s not the points that I’m concerned about. It’s just skating hard on pucks. My legs were really coming around. I was feeling really good out there,” D’Agostini said after the team’s morning skate. “We had some good games. We established a good forecheck and we got our chances and goals from that. I’m just hoping to get back to the same thing I was doing.”
D’Agostini took the morning skate on Tuesday against the Washington Capitals, but did not play.
“He was almost ready to go last game, but we decided a couple of more days wouldn’t hurt,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. “So he’s ready to go tonight.”
Ville Leino has since moved up to that line and after a strong third period against Washington, Nolan told the media he’ll likely keep Leino there.
The Sabres must make a roster move in order to activate D’Agostini from injured reserve.
Nolan said that the defensive lineup will be made just before the game. He said a few defensemen were feeling under the weather, including alternate captain Christian Ehrhoff, who was the only player not to participate in the morning skate.
Drew Stafford skated with the team and Nolan said he is close to returning from an upper-body injured that’s sidelined him for two games. Cody McCormick also made the trip and practiced in a red non-contact jersey.
Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal. His career numbers against Phoenix are his best against any team. He’s 5-0-0 in his career when facing the Coyotes with a 0.98 goals against average and a .966 save percentage.
John Scott and Linus Omark will be scratched at forward.
The Sabres have won their last three games in Phoenix, with the last loss coming on Jan. 21, 2008. They’re 6-3-1 in their last 10 games against the Coyotes and 6-4-0 on the road.