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Kahun, Simmonds set to make home debuts against Pittsburgh

Game day notes ahead of Thursday's matchup with the Penguins

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Dominik Kahun was in Los Angeles when he was acquired by the Buffalo Sabres from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 24. He met the team in Denver the following day, the first stop on a four-game trip that then took him to Las Vegas, Arizona, and Winnipeg. 

Kahun didn't actually step foot in Buffalo until the Sabres returned home from Winnipeg early Wednesday morning, more than a week into his tenure with the team. He will make his home debut along with fellow deadline acquisition Wayne Simmonds tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

"I didn't really see it coming so I was a little bit surprised and shocked," Kahun said of his initial reaction to the trade. "After that, it went so fast. Now I'm here and I'm fine."

Kahun scored on the second shift of his debut in Vegas, the culmination of a strong passing play from linemates Jimmy Vesey and Marcus Johansson. He returned the favor the following game in Arizona, forcing a turnover down low and setting up a Johansson goal in the first period. 

Coach Ralph Krueger has liked the chemistry developing between those three players as well as the team's other newly formed line of Jeff Skinner, Curtis Lazar, and Simmonds. Both lines remained intact during the team's skate this morning.  

Video: PREGAME: Krueger 

"He's a sparkplug," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said of Kahun. "We think he has a strong skillset. We like his speed and his deception in the game. Also, because he had a very long running past as a centerman in Europe … he has a good understanding of the game away from the puck. 

"We like the way he's integrated himself here so quickly into the principles and the concepts that we're trying to cement here without the puck. You can see his smarts."

Jonas Johansson will start in net for the Sabres. Linus Ullmark, who returned to practice Monday, took part in the team's morning skate and could be ready to serve in a backup role against Philadelphia this weekend, though an official call will be made Friday. 

Johansson had made five appearances in Ullmark's absence, going 1-2-1 with a .899 save percentage. 

"We like the way he's been joining our group," Krueger said. "When you see the maturing process of a player coming for the first time in the National Hockey League, there's always awe the first day and the first game, the first minutes. 

"He just looks a lot more comfortable the last few days being in our environment, being in our group, feeling a part of the team and we'd like to see the confirmation in the net tonight so it's been a good story on him thus far and we want to get a good look at him again today."


Projected lineup

Krueger said the team will continue with the same personnel from Tuesday's game in Winnipeg, meaning Michael Frolik and Colin Miller will be scratched. 

Here's how the team lined up against the Jets. 

68 Victor Olofsson - 9 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
53 Jeff Skinner - 27 Curtis Lazar - 17 Wayne Simmonds
13 Jimmy Vesey - 90 Marcus Johansson - 95 Dominik Kahun
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 22 Johan Larsson - 21 Kyle Okposo

24 Lawrence Pilut - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen 
26 Rasmus Dahlin - 62 Brandon Montour
19 Jake McCabe - 10 Henri Jokiharju


Scouting the Penguins

The Sabres have a chance to sweep their season series with the Penguins, having won each of the previous two meetings in Pittsburgh. They are less than two weeks removed from the most recent matchup, a 5-2 win on Feb. 22. 

That game was the second of six straight losses for the Penguins, a run that finally ended with a 7-3 win over Ottawa on Tuesday. Evgeni Malkin tallied four assists while Sidney Crosby (1+3), Bryan Rust (3+0), and Jason Zucker (1+2) all had three-point outings. 

Tonight's game will mark the return of former Sabres forwards Evan Rodrigues and Conor Sheary, both of whom were sent to the Penguins in the deal for Kahun. Sheary tallied a goal and an assist against the Penguins; Rodrigues has been held without a point in four outings. 

Matt Murray will start in net for the Penguins.


Tune in

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

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