UPDATE (3:10 p.m.):
The Buffalo Sabres have recalled forward Tim Schaller
from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League (AHL). The team has also activated defenseman Josh Gorges
from the Injured Reserve list and placed forward Cody McCormick
Schaller joins the Sabres for his second career recall since he signed an entry-level NHL contract with the organization in April 2013 as an undrafted free agent.
He was also recalled by Buffalo on Nov. 28 when he made his NHL debut. While playing in Rochester for the past two seasons, Schaller has appeared in 92 games, recording 33 points (17+16) and 58 penalty minutes.
THE MORNING SKATE REPORT
The Buffalo Sabres, winners of back-to-back games and five of their past six, may go with seven defenseman Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning at First Niagara Center.
With Josh Gorges ready to return after missing the past seven games with a knee injury, the team will have seven healthy defensemen ready to go.
The team may be short a forward because Drew Stafford will miss the game due to a lower-body injury and Cody McCormick has not yet been cleared to return after sustaining a concussion on Nov. 26.
McCormick was a full participant in the morning skate, but team doctors determined it would be best for him to sit another game.
“That decision is based on 100-percent clearance,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “It’s not 99.9, not almost. This is one of those injuries you don’t want to fool around with. You have to make sure you’re 100-percent right so we’re not there yet.”
The team may or may not recall a forward from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League for the game. When Stafford was unable to play in Montreal on Saturday, the team called up rookie center Tim Schaller.
Faceoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
Gorges is looking forward to being back. He was close to returning last weekend for the home-and-home series against Montreal.
“The guys have been playing so well, you don’t want to mess with a winning recipe,” he said. “For me, it’s just to jump in and continue doing what I do and helping in any way I can on the team.
“… I knew how I felt. I knew I was right there but you’ve got to listen to the people that are looking after you. They make the decisions not for themselves, but what’s best for me. Yeah, it sucked that I couldn’t get in that game but today’s the day.”
Jhonas Enroth is slated to start his fifth-straight game. He’s 4-1-0 in his past five appearances with a 1.69 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. His save percentage over that span is the best it’s been since he logged a .961 mark from Oct. 27 to Nov. 11, 2011.
Enroth is 3-1-0 with a .949 save percentage and a 1.74 goals-against average in his career against the Lightning.
In addition to receiving outstanding goaltending, Gorges sees the team’s defensive effort as much improved.
“We’re doing a much better job away from the puck. We’re working hard to support each other, to make those easy plays,” Gorges said. “I think we were hesitant. We were too far away. We were spread out and we made things difficult on ourselves. From what I’ve seen from the guys playing lately, they’re a lot hungrier on pucks.”
Tampa Bay is currently tied for the League-lead in points with Montreal with 36. They’ve won four games in a row, including 6-3 decision Monday night over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Leading the way is Steven Stamkos, who has 15 goals and 29 points in 25 games. Right behind him is sophomore center Tyler Johnson (8+18), Ryan Callahan (11+10) and Nikita Kucherov (9+12).
They enter the game as the League’s top scoring team with 90 goals this season, 11 more than the next closest team, the Penguins.
Backup goaltender Evgeni Nabokov will start in net.
“It seems like they’re getting contributions from everyone – four lines, all their D,” Sabres forward Tyler Ennis said. “It’s our first game against them this year so it’ll be fun. We did a great job against Montreal and they’re a top team. Now we have to do the same thing against Tampa.”
Sabres prospects J.T. Compher (second round, 2013), a sophomore at Michigan, and Hudson Fasching (acquired in a trade with Los Angeles in March), a sophomore at Minnesota, were added to Team USA’s preliminary roster Tuesday for the 2015 World Junior Championship.
The final U.S. roster will be announced on Dec. 24, two days before the start of the tournament.
Sabres defenseman Nikita Zadorov has been named to Team Russia’s final training camp roster and it’s expected that 2014 second-round pick Vaclav Karabacek will make the Czech Republic’s national team.
SabresProspects.com’s Kris Baker has a rundown of other prospects on the World Junior stage here.
PROJECTED LINEUP (UPDATED)
26 Matt Moulson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
65 Brian Flynn – 17 Torrey Mitchell – 12 Brian Gionta
82 Marcus Foligno – 19 Cody Hodgson – 80 Chris Stewart
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 59 Tim Schaller – 36 Patrick Kaleta
4 Josh Gorges – 57 Tyler Myers
51 Nikita Zadorov – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 24 Tyson Strachan
61 Andre Benoit
1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth
Injured: 8 Cody McCormick (concussion), 21 Drew Stafford (lower body), 41 Andrej Meszaros (concussion)
Injured Reserve: 31 Matt Hackett (knee)