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by Erin Pollina / Buffalo Sabres
Paul Gaustad (Photo: Bill Wippert)
Paul Gaustad will miss tonight’s contest against the Los Angeles Kings due to an upper body injury, and will likely be out for Saturday’s match-up in Montreal as well.

The centerman missed practice Thursday. Head Coach Lindy Ruff did not give a definitive timetable for Gaustad’s return.

Chris ButlerAudio | Video
Matt EllisAudio | Video
Lindy Ruff: Audio | Video

In his place Matt Ellis was recalled from the AHL Portland Pirates for his second stint with the Sabres. Ellis previously played seven games for Buffalo with Gaustad recovering from surgery on his thumb.

The grinder will likely play on a line between Andrew Peters and Dan Paille tonight and is expected to spend some time on the penalty kill as well.

“He’s just a smart reliable player,” Ruff said. “He’s an extremely hard worker. When he was in the lineup we had a lot of success. He does all the little things as hard as anybody.”

Ellis returns to play his former team tonight in the Kings, where he spent the latter half of the 2007-08 season before being placed on waivers Oct. 1.

“I’ve been through the ups and the downs,” Ellis said. “It’s part of being a professional and part of being a guy that plays my style of hockey… it’s what is expected.”

Joining Ellis in Buffalo is defenseman Chris Butler who is set to make his NHL debut tonight.

The blueliner has 12 points (2+10) in 27 games in his rookie season for the Pirates. A native of St. Louis, Mo., Butler played college hockey with the University of Denver for three years before turning pro.

“He’s got real good mobility,” Ruff said. “He’s played really well down there [in Portland] and he’s been a good puck mover and played strong defensively. We’re looking for more of the same.”

Butler will play alongside veteran Teppo Numminen, leaving Nathan Paetsch as the odd man out tonight.

“We’ve had lots of guys that have come up and played well in their first game,” Ruff said. “You have to get through the nerves… and especially with defensemen, keep it simple. Make the easy play, make the easy read and don’t overplay the situations.”
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