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FOLIGNO HOPEFUL TO RETURN ON TUESDAY

by Jourdon LaBarber / Buffalo Sabres

Marcus Foligno was back on the ice while Zemgus Girgensons was absent from it, but Buffalo Sabres coach Dan Bylsma expressed hope that both forwards will be ready come Tuesday night when the team plays host to the Atlantic Division-leading Florida Panthers.

Foligno missed the game in Boston on Saturday with a lower-body injury. Bylsma said that Girgensons is dealing with a lower-body injury, but added that he hoped Monday's absence from practice was "nothing more than a maintenance day."

If both players do suit up, there's a good chance they'll return as linemates flanking Jack Eichel. Foligno joined the line of Girgensons and Eichel for Buffalo's game in Montreal on Feb. 3 and scored his fourth goal of the season. He was back alongside Eichel in line rushes on Monday morning.

"It's tough, it's frustrating," Foligno said. "You have a chance to play and do good things for this team and then you have a little setback again. It's just something where you have to keep grinding, you have to keep moving forward and I'm looking forward to get a chance hopefully back with [Eichel] next game."

Foligno sustained his injury on an attempted hit in the third period against the Bruins. He left the ice with six minutes remaining and did not return.

"I feel pretty good," Foligno said. "We'll see how tomorrow is. Right now, it's just a pain tolerance, that's all I can really say. There was nothing really major, just a tweak, but it was tough to really play or even skate a couple days ago. Yesterday felt a little bit better and today I was able to skate again."

Bylsma said that Tyler Ennis, meanwhile, is continuing to skate on his own but his timetable has not progressed. Ennis has missed 16 games with an upper-body injury.

"It's no better than week-to-week," Bylsma said. "He has progressed over the last 10 days but still needs to go a little bit further before he can be cleared to go onto the next level."


CATENACCI'S DEBUT
In the event that either Foligno or Girgensons can't go on Tuesday, it might open the door for Daniel Catenacci to remain in the Sabres' lineup. Catenacci made his NHL debut against the Bruins, tallying two shots and three hits in 7:42 of ice time.

The night had been a long time coming for Catenacci, who was drafted by the Sabres in the third round in 2011, but had yet to be recalled from Rochester midway through his third pro season. During the national anthem, he said, the nerves kicked in.

"I tried to hide the nerves but playing in my first NHL game, I was pretty nervous," he said. "I had a lot of butterflies. It took time as the game went on to gain confidence and lose those butterflies."

He had a scoring chance right off the bat, getting in position for a potential redirect goal just less than 10 seconds into the game. His line ended up drawing a hooking call on that possession to earn Buffalo its first power play of the night.

"My first shift actually went pretty well," he said. "But, again, it's nerve-racking. It's your first NHL game and you don’t want to screw up. But I think as the game went on I gained a lot of confidence and feel a lot better around the guys now."

After receiving what he said was "probably the best news" of his life, Catenacci said his Rochester teammates were gracious in helping him prepare. Players like Philip Varone, Cal O'Reilly and Tim Schaller told him what to pack and what to expect. He's shared the same enthusiasm when they've been called up in the past.

At the same time, it's seeing the success of players he's played with or against at various levels that makes Catenacci think he just might be cut out for the NHL too.

"You see guys you've played with in the past and have played against and they're doing very well in the NHL these days," he said. "They're getting called up and doing well so there's no reason you can't. Coming up, you want to make an impression and do well and that’s what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to show that I belong."

The hunger to do that, Bylsma said, has shown in the rookie's face in the few days he's spent in Buffalo. It's a familiar look for the Sabres coach, who had to wait a few years himself before making his NHL debut as a 25 year old in 1995.

"It's been a long time for him," Bylsma said. "He's paid some dues and had some lumps and I think he's worked through his game to another level and had to do it in through his years pro. It’s a big payoff for him to get his first game and, yes, I see some of the same look on his face and appreciation of finally getting here, finally playing a game that I remember a long time ago."

Whether Catenacci's second game in the NHL comes on Tuesday or sometime in the future, he's already thought about what he needs to build on from his debut – namely, showing patience with the puck. Catenacci said that there were times where he may have had a lot more time to make plays than he thought.

"That's just confidence," he said. "I think that's building every second."


MONDAY'S PRACTICE
88 Jamie McGinn – 90 Ryan O'Reilly – 23 Sam Reinhart
9 Evander Kane – 22 Johan Larsson – 12 Brian Gionta
26 Matt Moulson – 15 Jack Eichel – 82 Marcus Foligno
43 Daniel Catenacci – 17 David Legwand – 44 Nicolas Deslauriers

4 Josh Gorges – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe – 47 Zach Bogosian
6 Mike Weber – 3 Mark Pysyk
25 Carlo Colaiacovo – 46 Cody Franson

40 Robin Lehner
31 Chad Johnson

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