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Vesey returns to New York as Sabres face Rangers

Hutton starts in net with no other lineup changes expected

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

NEW YORK - Jimmy Vesey will make his return to Madison Square Garden tonight when the Buffalo Sabres take on the New York Rangers.

Vesey was traded to Buffalo on July 1 after three seasons in New York. Last year, he posted a career-high 35 points (17+18).

"Just a little weird playing against some old friends," he said after practice on Wednesday. "I was saying the other day, I've never played against a former team before so I'm excited for it. It will be good to see some familiar faces, not only players but trainers and staff and stuff like that. I'm looking forward to it."

In 10 games this season, Vesey has two assists, and has mainly been playing with center Casey Mittelstadt and right wing Conor Sheary. But head coach Ralph Krueger has found Vesey to be valuable in other aspects of play, particularly as a reliable player on the penalty kill. 

"We know Jimmy would like to be producing more, but we're not upset with him in any way, shape or form. He's come in here and he has taken on his role," Krueger said. 

"He's become an important penalty killer for us and has done a lot of important things within the Mittelstadt-Sheary line to make that possible, what's happening there. He's working hard in both directions. We like the way he's embraced our style of play. The offense is going to come for sure if he holds onto this line."

The Buick Game Night pregame show starts at 6:30 p.m. on MSG. Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray will have the call of the action at 7 on MSG and WGR 550.

Back to Hutton

Carter Hutton will start in net for Buffalo. Hutton started the first two game of the season, and up until night, he's traded starts with Linus Ullmark. 

Hutton is 4-1-0 with a 1.48 goals-against average and a .953 save percentage in his career against the Rangers, but Krueger said naming a starter for tonight's game wasn't really about past success.

"We just felt it was a good one to mix it up," Krueger said. "Of course you do look a little bit at history, but it's not the deciding factor here today. It was just a gut feel that we thought this was a good one for Carter."

In six starts this season, Hutton is 6-0-0. He's posted a 1.65 GAA and a .943 save percentage, and was the NHL's Third Star last week. 

Krueger said there would be no changes to the lineup from Tuesday's overtime win over San Jose with the exception of the starting goaltender.

Here's the projected lineup (Buffalo did not hold a morning skate on Thursday):

68 Victor Olofsson - 9 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
53 Jeff Skinner - 90 Marcus Johansson - 17 Vladimir Sobotka
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 22 Johan Larsson - 21 Kyle Okposo
13 Jimmy Vesey - 37 Casey Mittelstadt - 43 Conor Sheary

26 Rasmus Dahlin - 33 Colin Miller
19 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Marco Scandella - 10 Henri Jokiharju

40 Carter Hutton
35 Linus Ullmark

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