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ENNIS RETURNS; RISTOLAINEN DOUBTFUL AGAINST TORONTO

by Chris Ryndak / Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres will get their leading scorer back, but could very well be without one of their top defensemen Monday night when they play the Toronto Maple Leafs at First Niagara Center.

Forward Tyler Ennis is slated to return to the lineup after missing the past two games with a lower-body injury. However, 20-year-old Rasmus Ristolainen, who has goals in each of the past three games, is doubtful because of the flu.

“He didn’t feel real well this morning when he woke up so we kept him in bed,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said after the team’s morning skate. “Hopefully he gets a little bit better by game time. If not, he’ll be out.”

The Tops Game Night pregame show begins at 7 p.m. on MSG-B and Sportsnet with faceoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.

Ennis left Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury and was hoping to play in Arizona on Monday. The extra rest seems to have paid off.

“I feel good. I’m excited to be back,” he said. “The trainers did a good job. I knew it wasn’t too bad but I did a lot of therapy on it, iced it a lot and it feels good.”


SHOTS GALORE
Even without Ennis, the Sabres were able to come away with two of their most productive games of the season. They generated a season-high 38 shots on goal Saturday in Denver and 36 against the Coyotes.

“We’re getting more pucks to the net. Guys are playing with a little more confidence with the puck and making plays,” alternate captain Matt Moulson said. “That’s going to lead to some goals.”

However, only one of those seven goals came from a forward – an empty-netter Monday night by captain Brian Gionta.

Defenseman Andrej Meszaros had a pair of goals in each game. He now has seven goals and 13 points in 54 games.

“The last few games, the puck just seems to find its way,” Nolan said. “He’s been working extra after practice. And there’s no secret. I think work and productivity go hand in hand and in the last month or so, he’s stayed out on the ice and has been doing some extra skating, extra shooting. And in return, his play’s gotten better.”


TONIGHT’S STARTER
Anders Lindback made 28 saves in Monday’s 4-1 win in Arizona and will start again for Buffalo. Matt Hackett still isn’t ready to return to the crease as he recovers from some swelling and soreness in the knee that was surgically reconstructed a calendar year ago. Therefore, Andrey Makarov will once again serve as the backup.

Hackett did not take the ice for the morning skate. He last played on Saturday against the Avalanche.


ROSTER MOVES AND INJURY UPDATES
After Monday’s skate, the Sabres assigned forward Tim Schaller to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. The Amerks play in Utica at 7 p.m.

Zemgus Girgensons, currently on injured reserve after blocking a shot off his foot on Feb. 24, has not practiced with the team since then. With only six games remaining, Nolan said Monday it’s likely that Girgensons’ season is over.


PROJECTED LINEUP
26 Matt Moulson – 22 Johan Larsson – 63 Tyler Ennis
82 Marcus Foligno – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 84 Philip Varone – 20 Zac Dalpe
36 Patrick Kaleta – 37 Matt Ellis – 19 Cody Hodgson

61 Andre Benoit – 47 Zach Bogosian
6 Mike Weber – 41 Andrej Meszaros
51 Nikita Zadorov – 24 Tyson Strachan

35 Anders Lindback
1 Andrey Makarov

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