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Thompson to make season debut for Sabres in Chicago

Forward will replace Kyle Okposo, who is day-to-day

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

CHICAGO - Tage Thompson will make his season debut for the Sabres when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at United Center. 

Thompson will take the place of Kyle Okposo, who sustained an injury following a collision with Ottawa forward Ron Hainsey in the second period on Saturday. He'll skate on a line with Zemgus Girgensons and Rasmus Asplund.  

Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said that Okposo is day-to-day.

"It's the type of injury that just needs a little space," Krueger said. "We'll know more for sure by tomorrow."

Video: Americans Made: Tage Thompson

Thompson, 22, is tied for the Amerks lead with 12 points (6+6) in 16 games this season. He tallied 15 points (7+5) in 65 contests with the Sabres last season, then spent the summer adding size to complement his 6-foot-7 frame. 

He's the third player to be recalled from Rochester in the past week. Curtis Lazar joined the team Thursday following injuries to Vladimir Sobotka and Marcus Johansson and scored in his Sabres debut. Rasmus Asplund made his NHL debut last night in place of an injured Johan Larsson. 

"Just like with Lazar and Asplund, what we saw from Tage in the preseason was exciting," Krueger said. "He's a completely different asset for us. That size, his hunger to work around the net, and the skill that he brings with the size is quite exciting. 

"We feel like this time in Rochester now has helped him to settle down, to be able to work on some fundamental things. For us, certainly, we expect him to add to our forechecking presence and our net pressure. He's somebody who can really help us there."

Video: PREGAME: Krueger

It will be the first game back in Chicago for defenseman Henri Jokiharju, who was drafted by the Blackhawks in the first round in 2017 and played 38 games for the team last season. The 20-year-old has been a dependable presence on the back end for Buffalo, dressing in all 19 games this season.

"Henri's been outstanding," Krueger said. "Really a big, positive surprise from training camp all the way through. He's confirmed his presence in our lineup regularly. He is good on both sides of the puck, moves the puck very, very well because he keeps his feet moving all the time and finds good options and solutions. Very seldom is he in trouble. 

"Defensively, we like to play quite an aggressive style and it really suits his ability. As a person, he's fit into the group in every way, shape, and form and we're really pleased and excited about the future that he brings."

The Sabres are looking to win for the second night in a row following a 4-2 victory over the Senators. Jack Eichel scored all four goals in that game while Sam Reinhart tallied a pair of assists for his fourth multi-point outing in his last nine contests. 

Carter Hutton will start in net. 


Scouting the Blackhawks

Like the Senators on Saturday, the Blackhawks come into the night having rebounded from a poor start with wins in four of their last five contests. They're coming off a 7-2 victory in Nashville last night. 

The Blackhawks have been outshot in all four of those wins, all of which have seen their opponents tally at least 38 shots. Their season average of 37.3 shots against per game is the highest in the NHL. 

"Chicago came in last night too, they played a game. We're both going back-to-back so for both teams it's a test of character," Krueger said. "We've seen all our back-to-backs to date as such, that we need to rise and work that much harder within our system and what we actually expect from each other.

"It's a night that you're tested because with fatigue often comes old habits and we want to keep the new habits alive right through the game, so that's what we're hoping for today."

Patrick Kane is riding an eight-game point streak, during which he's tallied seven goals and 16 points. The Blackhawks will turn to the veteran Corey Crawford in net. 


Projected lineup

68 Victor Olofsson - 9 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
53 Jeff Skinner - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 43 Conor Sheary
13 Jimmy Vesey - 37 Casey Mittelstadt - 27 Curtis Lazar
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 74 Rasmus Asplund - 72 Tage Thompson

19 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
26 Rasmus Dahlin - 62 Brandon Montour
6 Marco Scandella - 10 Henri Jokiharju

40 Carter Hutton
35 Linus Ullmark

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