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by Rob Crean / Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres skated at HSBC Arena this morning to kick off another weekend of back-to-back home games.  Jochen Hecht and Steve Montador are both close to returning from injuries, but as of this morning there was no definitive answer as to whether either of them would return tonight.

Steve Montador (Photo: Bill Wippert)

This morning, Ruff said Montador would be a game-time decision tonight. 

"I don't know yet, we're going to see at game time," Ruff said when asked whether Montador would play tonight.  "He's doing pretty good.  He's not 100 percent, but he's doing well."

As for Hecht, Ruff did not address his status on Friday, but said yesterday that he “would anticipate that if (Hecht) isn’t available for Friday, that he could be available for Saturday.”

Tonight’s opponent, the Florida Panthers, have been shutout in each of their last two games, a fact that means little to the Sabres tonight.

“To be honest, I had no idea they had been shutout, but we expect every team to be hungry at this time of year,” said Jason Pominville.  “On our side, we’re trying to compete to keep climbing.”

“Them being shutout the last two (games) kind of means nothing right now, because we know they’re going to be a different team than they probably were the last two games,” added Nathan Gerbe.

Gerbe, who scored both goals in Buffalo’s 2-0 win at Montreal on Tuesday, will bring a three-game goal-scoring streak into tonight’s game.  Gerbe has credited some of the team’s veteran players for helping him improve over the course of the season, including Mike Grier.

“He’s a great kid. He loves hockey, he works hard every day in practice, and he wants to be better and wants to be a good player in this league,” Grier said of Gerbe.  “He’s a little bit of a sponge.  He’s listening to everyone and what everyone’s got to say.  I just try to keep his confidence up and let him know that it’s ok for him to make mistakes and not to get too down on himself when he does.  At the same time, I try to help him out defensively, and what he should be doing.  I think he’s coming around nice. I think it’s showed the last couple games when Lindy’s had him out there in the last two minutes of games and he’s got the job done.”

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