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Okposo to return in Vancouver

Forwards has missed 10 games since sustaining a concussion

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

VANCOUVER - Kyle Okposo will be back in the lineup when the Sabres visit the Vancouver Canucks this afternoon at Rogers Arena. 

Okposo has missed the last 10 games as he recovered from a concussion. He'll skate on a line with Zemgus Girgensons and Johan Larsson, reuniting a trio that was one of the team's most consistent during the month of October. 

"They just play within the plan all the time," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "So, what it seems to do is just activate, for the guys on the bench somehow, a magnet to do the same. … When they don't only do it in words but they do it in execution, it helps the group be more consistent."

The Sabres will dress 12 forwards and six defensemen after utilizing an 11-7 lineup in recent games. Colin Miller will be scratched on defense to make room for Okposo to re-enter the lineup. 

Carter Hutton will get the nod in net, his first start since a 41-save outing in an overtime loss at Toronto last Saturday.

"He takes a defeat as personal as anybody here in this roster but then also recovers with a good attitude the next day pretty quickly," Krueger said. "I think his fight and his disappointment off the last game will also activate some motivation for the rest of the team to fight for him."

Coverage on MSG begins at 3:30 p.m. Puck drop is scheduled for 4. 


Scouting the Canucks

Vancouver enters the contest ranked fourth on the power play this season at 26.8 percent. Elias Pettersson ranks third in the league with 17 points with the extra man.

The Sabres are looking to turn the tide on their own special teams, and Krueger said pressure will be a key. 

"It's all about pressure," Krueger said. "We aren't confident enough to sustain the pressure that we do 5-on-5, which is ironic because usually the PK should be an example for what we want to do defensively. 

"The same with the power play. We play a different offensive game 5-on-5 than we do on the power play, and it's somehow bringing the principles of our 5-on-5 game now into the specialty teams. For me, that would be the difference."

The matchup will also pit two of the league's top rookies against each other in Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes and Sabres forward Victor Olofsson. Olofsson ranks second in rookie scoring with 24 points; Hughes ranks third with 23. 

Thatcher Demko will start in net for the Canucks.

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