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ENNIS NAMED NHL'S 1ST STAR OF THE WEEK AS SABRES PREPARE FOR SENS

by Chris Ryndak / Buffalo Sabres

With five points in the past three games, Tyler Ennis has helped lead the Buffalo Sabres during a three-game winning streak they hope to make four in a row Monday night against the Ottawa Senators.

The NHL recognized Ennis’ performances, which included a three-point night on Thursday, by naming him the first star of the week ending on Dec. 14.

The 25-year-old forward has found great success in the past month while playing right wing on a line with Matt Moulson and center Zemgus Girgensons. Stellar goaltending and the success of that line have helped Buffalo make up some ground in the standings.

The Sabres are 9-3-0 in their past 12 games, dating back to a 6-2 win over Toronto on Nov. 15. During that stretch, Ennis has 12 points (3+9). Go back two more games to when he was first put on a line with Moulson and Girgensons and he has 14 points in his past 14 games (4+10).

He leads the Sabres in scoring with 21 points (8+13).

“I’m enjoying the wing. I’m enjoying playing with these guys and I think earlier on in the year, I was struggling in the middle and losing faceoffs. That was frustrating me a lot so I feel a little more comfortable on the wing,” Ennis said. “It’s pretty easy when you play with Zemgus and Matty. We get it in, we work it down low and we have to keep scoring.”

Ennis’ skill set caught Sabres coach Ted Nolan’s eye right away, dating back to when he started coaching the team again last November and he’s happy to see the League take notice.

“What impressed me the first day I got here was his ability,” Nolan said. “He’s a highly skilled player in this League and to watch it all come to fruition right now and watching all the things he’s capable of doing with the puck, we’re just glad he’s on our side.”

Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter was named the week’s second star and Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist picked up third-star honors.

Back to the play of the goaltenders, Jhonas Enroth will make his 10th start in 11 games for Buffalo. In his past 10 games, he’s 8-2-0 with a .940 save percentage and a 2.04 goals-against average.

Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. with the Tops Gamenight pregame show beginning at 6:30 p.m. on MSG-B and Bell TV. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.


GAMETIME DECISIONS
When both Andrej Meszaros and Josh Gorges left during Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers due to injury, the Sabres were forced to play with four defensemen. Tyler Myers, Nikita Zadorov, Rasmus Ristolainen and Andre Benoit ate up some big minutes with Myers leading the way with a whopping 29:35 of ice time.

Zadorov ended up scoring the winner in overtime.

“It’s not an easy thing to do so full credit to those guys to fight out there and battle,” Tyson Strachan said. “They’re didn’t just get through it, they went out there and made a difference and battled for the team. We were able to get the two points so it was awesome to see and hopefully we’ve got six healthy tonight and we can keep it going.”

Meszaros, who had missed the six previous games with a concussion, caught a puck on the chin and had to leave the game. Gorges blocked a shot with his hand and although he tried to play through it, needed further evaluation from the medical staff that kept him out.

However, it looks like Meszaros, Gorges and Strachan – who has missed the past four games with a lower-body injury – will be ready to go pending further medical evaluations.

Nolan said the plan is to skate seven defensemen in pregame warmups and then dress the six healthiest players for the game. Strachan and Meszaros were a pair during the morning skate while Benoit rotated in with Zadorov and Ristolainen. Gorges skated alongside Myers.

“We’ll have to make a gametime decision on that,” Nolan said after the morning skate. “We’ll see with a couple guys, see how they’re feeling. They felt good this morning so we’ll give them a couple more hours and make a gametime decision.”

Gorges said he’s not quite at 100 percent, but doesn’t anticipate any problems gripping the stick or any other issues.

“I felt relatively good, good enough to play,” he said. “It’s a matter of making sure there's doctor’s clearance and there’s no further damage or anything crazy that can happen afterwards.”

Meszaros blocked a shot from Ristolainen off his right leg during the morning skate during a power-play drill but was able to skate it off. He said he felt fine afterwards. Combining that with his recent injuries, you could say he’s been a little unlucky lately.

“It feels like the puck starts following you in different directions. But hey, it’s part of the game,” he said. “You’re going to get hit with the puck. It is what is.”


PROJECTED LINEUP
26 Matt Moulson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
65 Brian Flynn – 17 Torrey Mitchell – 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 82 Marcus Foligno – 21 Drew Stafford
80 Chris Stewart – 19 Cody Hodgson – 36 Patrick Kaleta

4 Josh Gorges – 57 Tyler Myers
51 Nikita Zadorov – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
24 Tyson Strachan – 41 Andrej Meszaros / 61 Andre Benoit

1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth

Injured: 6 Mike Weber (knee), 8 Cody McCormick (lower body)
Injured Reserve: 31 Matt Hackett (knee)

POWER PLAY
First Unit
Moulson-Girgensons-Ennis
Stafford-Myers

Second Unit
Flynn-Hodgson-Gionta
Ristolainen- Zadorov/Gorges

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