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by Rob Crean / Buffalo Sabres

- Drew Stafford is expected to return to the lineup tonight after missing the last two games with a lower-body injury.

“I had a few good days of good rehab and treatment, and I feel good, ready to go,” Stafford said following the morning skate.

Drew Stafford
The news of Stafford’s return was tempered by the announcement that Jochen Hecht, who left Sunday’s game with the same upper-body injury that caused him to miss four games last week, will not play tonight against Carolina.

“We’re disappointed we lose Jochen but at the same time, getting ‘Staff’ back is a big help for us,” said Lindy Ruff.

- Steve Montador was a healthy scratch in Sunday’s win over Ottawa, but Ruff did not reveal which of his seven defensemen would sit tonight, saying he defense pairs would be a game-time decision.

Over the last six outings, Montador, Chris Butler, Mike Weber and Shaone Morrisonn have each missed at least one game either due to injury or as a healthy scratch.

- The Sabres spent about 30 minutes on the ice this morning to prepare for tonight’s game against the Hurricanes, who currently occupy the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference and sit four points behind the Sabres and Rangers. 

“You look at where we are in the standings, and where they are, it’s a big task ahead of us tonight,” said Jordan Leopold.  “It’s what we consider a four-point game.  We had a good skate this morning and we’re getting ready to go out there for battle.  We had a long road trip, we had a good day off yesterday to refresh the batteries, and (we’ll) go out here and look to get two points.”

- Ryan Miller, who is expected to be back in goal tonight after getting Sunday’s game off, shared his thoughts this morning on the loss of Sabre great Rick Martin.

“It’s horrible that Rico is gone too soon,” Miller said. “I was just talking to him at the gathering we had when Mr. Pegula took over. I talked to him for a while and his energy and his excitement and his demeanor… it was just nice to talk to him.  I feel so bad for his family and it’s a sad moment for all of us because he was a quality person who really cared about the community.”

The Sabres announced yesterday that the team, along with Martin’s family, will hold a public memorial service at HSBC Arena on Thursday, Mar. 24 at 11 a.m.  More details will be announced later this week.

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