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by Chris Ryndak / Buffalo Sabres

After missing the past two games because of illness, the Buffalo Sabres will have their top left wing back in the lineup. Matt Moulson took part in the morning skate on Monday and will be ready to go when the Buffalo Sabres take on the Carolina Hurricanes at First Niagara Center.

The Tops Game Night pregame show begins at 6:30 p.m. on MSG-B and Bell. Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game can also be heard live on WGR 550.

In Moulson’s absence, the Sabres looked for others to step up. Marcus Foligno took advantage of his increased role, scoring twice on Friday against Chicago and playing 21:16 on Saturday against the Islanders.

Sabres coach Ted Nolan has seen Foligno’s overall game grow in the past few months and is happy to see Foligno being rewarded for his work, particularly in front of the net.

“What I see in his game is he’s going to be a big part of the future of this organization and this team,” Nolan said. “There’s no better time than right now to give him those minutes and give him that experience.”

Foligno has eight goals and 19 points in 54 games this season.

“You want to work hard for the coaches and for the players here. If you’re given that ice time, you’ve got to do something with it,” he said. “I feel like my game has been more consistent too. The work ethic was always there every night, maybe that’s one of the reasons he kept giving me those minutes.”

Anders Lindback will start in goal and Andrey Makarov will serve as his backup.

Nolan said that Matt Hackett is still not skating. He’s missed the past four games as he deals with soreness and swelling in his surgically repaired knee. Chad Johnson, who has been out since March 6 with an ankle injury, has been working out on the ice before practices.

Mike Weber, who has been out with a lower-body injury the past two games, may be out for the season, but Nolan expects to receive an update on his condition sometime Monday afternoon.

A regulation loss would lock the Sabres into last place in the League, but even if that happens, Nolan isn’t concerned with the team’s ability to play hard for the final two games of the season. He believes it starts with the veteran leaders in the room like Ennis, Moulson and captain Brian Gionta.

“This is a good group of guys. They really like each other. We had some great leadership from Gionta,” Nolan said. “He’s a true pro so it doesn’t matter if it’s the 82nd game and you’re not in the playoffs or 82 going into the playoffs, I think you’re going to get the same effort.

Tyler Ennis has been that quiet leader all season. Matty’s been [doing] the same thing. We’ve had good, mature leadership for the young guys to follow.”

The past two games, the Sabres have gone up against teams jockeying for home ice in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Even though the team was unable to pick up points in either game, defenseman Tyson Strachan was impressed at how the team has stayed competitive.

They’re lessons that he hopes the younger players on the club take to heart.

“Those things, you can’t coach it, right? It’s life experience. It’s game experience. It’s stuff that’s invaluable for anybody to go through,” he said. “To see those kinds of games, especially right now, you start to see these teams, they’re getting ready for playoffs.

“…They’re bringing their best game and it’s nice for us to be able to hang in there and battle with those guys until the end. Obviously last game, we didn’t get the results we were looking for, but for the most part, the compete level was there.”

26 Matt Moulson – 22 Johan Larsson – 63 Tyler Ennis
82 Marcus Foligno – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 12 Brian Gionta
19 Cody Hodgson – 84 Philip Varone – 20 Zac Dalpe
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 37 Matt Ellis – 36 Patrick Kaleta

24 Tyson Strachan – 47 Zach Bogosian
41 Andrej Meszaros – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
61 Andre Benoit – 51 Nikita Zadorov

35 Anders Lindback
1 Andrey Makarov

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