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Larsson to return to lineup as Sabres prepare for rematch against Bruins

Ullmark to start in net for Buffalo

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

BOSTON - Johan Larsson will return to the lineup tonight as the Buffalo Sabres prepare to take on the Boston Bruins in the second game of a home-and-home series. 

The Sabres mixed up their lines at practice on Saturday, but those combinations may not be exactly what we see when the team takes the ice for the 7 p.m. faceoff from TD Garden. 

Larsson, who has missed the past three games due to an upper-body injury, skated between Marcus Johansson and Sam Reinhart on Saturday. The Sabres did not take the ice Sunday morning.

"We like our general net presence. We like the general threat to the net. There's a few percentage points of grit in that offensive game that need to be added here for us to be successful," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "We think the lines, the way they're coming tonight, the team feels like it'll be a team that can score with committee more than relying on a few horses."

Krueger would not divulge exactly what changes to the lines from practice would be coming. 

Buffalo will be without forward Jeff Skinner for the next three to four weeks after sustaining an upper-body injury during Friday's 3-0 loss at home to Boston. 

Defenseman Marco Scandella will miss his second game due to illness. Krueger hopes Scandella will be ready for Tuesday's home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Linus Ullmark will start in goal. He made 22 saves on Friday. 

"He can take a lot of confidence out of the last game as the group in general should," Krueger said. "We just have a few little nuances we need to build on to give ourselves a chance here today."

Video: PREGAME: Krueger

The Sabres are 1-4-0 in their past five games after starting December 4-1-2. They've been outscored 19-8 in the most recent stretch. Krueger, however, has seen positives as the group continues to work toward establishing a consistent brand of hockey. 

"We do like the energy of the group and the way they're working," he said. "It's a big teaching opportunity again. It's how quickly can we put those lessons into play and how can much growth is there here to get the results because the results are what we're measured by. 

"But internally, we're continuing to work on the same plan we did early in the season, and that's the teaching and the development of a game that a team like Boston just has in their DNA - the consistency of the way the Bruins play and how they play without the puck as a group.

"The strength of that group to be compact on a good day or a bad day is something that we are actually still aspiring to. We can do it in spurts and pieces. We've done it in full games. It's when you get knocked over like we have here the last few games is actually when you have the opportunity for the biggest growth, so hopefully we see it in the results pretty quick here." 

Pregame coverage starts on MSG at 6:30 p.m. Rick Jeanneret and Rob Ray will have the call on MSG and WGR 550.  

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