ST. PAUL, Minn. – All eight defensemen were on the ice for an optional morning skate for the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday morning, but a few days still remain until we see Mark Pysyk return to the lineup.
The Sabres' lineup against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night will remain consistent from their 4-2 win in Winnipeg on Sunday, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. That means Pysyk's return won't come until their home game against Boston on Friday at the earliest.
It also means that Jake McCabe is able to play after leaving the game in Winnipeg early with a lower-body injury.
"I think postgame in Winnipeg, obviously he didn’t come back out, he wasn't doing well," Bylsma said of McCabe. "Yesterday he was significantly better, almost 100 percent at practice and even better today so [he's] ready to go back in."
Linus Ullmark, meanwhile, will make his second consecutive start in net for the Sabres after tying a career high with 42 saves against the Jets. Ullmark hasn't made back-to-back starts since he played a pair against St. Louis and Nashville on Nov. 23 and 25.
Ultimately, it was his strong play in Winnipeg that made him the right choice to start as the Sabres try for their second win in a row.
"Most definitely," Bylsma said. "No question about it, he earned the right to go back in net for us tonight with his play in Winnipeg."
"I kept the puck to myself and [did not] give up any sloppy rebounds," Ullmark said when asked to analyze his performance in the win. "[That] is probably the hardest thing to do in this League, to keep the rebounds where you want them and just be in control of situations all the time."
Ullmark had done a good job in many of his recent starts prior to Sunday, but the results hadn't shown it. He lost four games in a row despite allowing just two goals in three of those contests, earning a goal or less of support from his offensive each time.
To finally come out on the winning end, he said, is a big confidence booster.
"It means a lot," Ullmark said. "It doesn’t really matter if you're playing good or not, it's the wins that count in the end. If I'm playing good and we lose 2-1 or something like that, like I said, you always have to win the game. That's the most important thing."
Devan Dubnyk, owner of a 2.29 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage, will oppose Ullmark in net for Minnesota.
The Wild are led in scoring by their captain, Mikko Koivu, who enters the contest with 13 points (6+7) in his last 15 games and 33 points overall. Zach Parise, who leads the team with 16 goals, scored the only marker for Minnesota in a 2-1 loss to New Jersey on Sunday night.
"They're a very skilled hockey team but they work hard as well," McCabe said. "They come hard on the forecheck and it's some of their most skilled guys; Parise is probably their hardest worker. So that's kind of how their team is and we have to wear the defense out and make them play where they don’t want to play."
Pregame coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Tops Sabres Gamenight on MSG-B and Bell TV. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
9 Evander Kane – 90 Ryan O'Reilly – 88 Jamie McGinn
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 15 Jack Eichel – 23 Sam Reinhart
82 Marcus Foligno – 22 Johan Larsson – 12 Brian Gionta
26 Matt Moulson – 59 Tim Schaller – 17 David Legwand
4 Josh Gorges – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe – 47 Zach Bogosian
6 Mike Weber – 46 Cody Franson
35 Linus Ullmark
31 Chad Johnson