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Hutton will be a game-time decision against Maple Leafs

News and notes for Sunday's home game against Toronto

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Carter Hutton will be a game-time decision for the Buffalo Sabres against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at KeyBank Center. 

Hutton took a maintenance day while the team practiced on Saturday. He was on the ice testing his injury while Sabres coach Ralph Krueger met with the media this morning. 

If Hutton cannot play, Krueger said the team will turn to rookie Jonas Johansson in net. Andrew Hammond is also on the NHL roster after being recalled from Rochester on Saturday. 

"We're testing him at the moment as a we speak here, and, again we are going to be unable to make that final call until tonight," Krueger said. 

Video: PREGAME: Krueger

Marcus Johansson will be back in the lineup after missing Buffalo's game against Columbus on Thursday with an upper-body injury. Johansson is coming off a two-point performance against Detroit on Tuesday, fueled in part by a move to the wing alongside Curtis Lazar. 

"The centerman's work is really quite challenging so for Marcus what it does is free him up a little bit from that responsibility, although in our system anybody can end up there," Krueger said. "I think he had a good feeling going on here the last few days. It looked like with Lazar there was some good synergy there, so we're excited to look at that again. But he seems to be in a really good place right now."

Michael Frolik, meanwhile, will be a game-time decision after missing practice on Saturday with an illness. Here's how the team lined up at forward in Frolik's absence: 

68 Victor Olofsson - 9 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
53 Jeff Skinner - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 43 Conor Sheary
90 Marcus Johansson - 27 Curtis Lazar - 13 Jimmy Vesey
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 22 Johan Larsson - 21 Kyle Okposo


Scouting the Maple Leafs

Toronto ranks third in the Atlantic Division with 70 points - 10 ahead of the Sabres - following their 4-2 win in Ottawa on Saturday night. Auston Matthews scored his 42nd goal of the season, giving him a share of the NHL lead. 

The Maple Leafs rank third in the NHL with an average of 3.54 goals per game, an attack anchored by one of the league's premier one-two punches at center in Matthews and John Tavares.

With Buffalo's forward group nearing full health for the first time since November, Krueger said he feels comfortable rolling four lines versus worrying about specific matchups. That may not have been the case as recently as last week, when the Sabres were still dealing with injuries to Victor Olofsson and Kyle Okposo. 

"From Sweden to now, it's the first time we're sitting at the lineup feeling comfortable with four lines that can play against anybody in the other group," Krueger said.

"… I think we've done really well where we've been able to concentrate on rhythm and pace and let lines share responsibilities like playing up against Matthews or Tavares tonight, two of the elite lines in the whole National Hockey League. But we feel all four lines can do that today, so that's the different feeling since just a few games now that we have back."

Tonight will be the fourth and final meeting between the Sabres and Maple Leafs this season. The Sabres are 1-1-1 through the first three contests, with the lone win having come at KeyBank Center on Nov. 29. Players spoke yesterday about the raised stakes surrounding this game, with Buffalo looking to chip away at its deficit in the standings with 23 games remaining. 

"Because of our situation right now and the opportunity for us to inch closer and to put some pressure on them, it's an experience for us and it's an experience for a commitment to our game and who we want to be and how we want to play," Krueger said. "We're excited about it and I'm sure it's going to be a strong game from both teams."

 Frederik Andersen will start in net for the Maple Leafs. 


Numbers to know 

•    22 - That's Jack Eichel's point total in 16 career games against Toronto, an average of 1.4 points per game. It's his third-best average against any opponent. 

•    .860 - Victor Olofsson scored twice in his return from a 15-game absence on Thursday, giving him 37 points in 43 games this season. That's an average of .860 points per game, tied with Dave Andreychuk as the fourth-best mark by a rookie in franchise history. Olofsson's average trails only Rick Martin (1.014), Gilbert Perreault (.923), and Ray Sheppard (.878). 


Tune in 

Coverage on MSG begins at 6:30 p.m. You can also listen to the game on WGR 550, with puck drop set for 7. 

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