Fresh off the three-day holiday break, the Buffalo Sabres are back in action Saturday night against the New York Islanders.
Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. with the Tops Gamenight pregame show beginning at 6:30 p.m. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
Buffalo will be getting some healthy bodies back in the lineup after fielding five call-ups from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League in their last game on Tuesday.
Matt Moulson, who has missed the past three games due to the flu, is feeling better and is ready to contribute again on the team’s top line.
Center Cody McCormick will be back in as well. He’s been out since Dec. 13 with a lower-body injury and defenseman Mike Weber, who has missed the past six games due to minor knee surgery, will also make his return to the ice.
Moulson was one of a few players who was sick over the course of the past week and used the break to get better. He skated on his own Friday and feels like his conditioning is where it needs to be. In the last five games he’s played, Moulson has four points (2+2).
“I started feeling better Sunday or Monday,” he said after the morning skate at First Niagara Center. “I had all the tests done to make sure it wasn’t anything more serious than the flu and luckily it was just the flu. Unfortunately, I had to wait for all the tests so I couldn’t play in any of the games before the break because of the precautions with the NHL and making sure everyone else doesn’t get sick.”
Buffalo is 0-3-1 in its past four games, coming off a stretch in which they had won 10 of 13. They had a late one-goal lead against Boston on Sunday heading before the Bruins tied it up and won it in overtime.
The Sabres then held a 3-2 advantage against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday heading into the third period. Detroit then scored four goals in the final frame, including three on the power play, to close out the game and take the two points.
Weber thinks having some veterans back to the lineup should add some stability, particularly when the game is on the line.
“We need to get back to playing the right way. I definitely feel like Boston and Detroit, if we had our full lineup and guys weren’t so banged up, tired and things like that, those are games that a week ago, two weeks ago, we were winning those,” he said.
“Up a goal in the third period, we were starting to understand how to win games and how to be winners. It slipped away from it here a little in the last couple.”
Playing at home might help the cause as well. Buffalo is 9-2-0 in their past 11 at First Niagara Center.
Jhonas Enroth will start in goal. He’s 9-3-1 in his last 13 games. He’ll be looking for his first career win against the Islanders. He’s 0-3-0 with a 2.72 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in three games against them.
RECALLS FROM ROCHESTER
Two forwards from Rochester are still needed as the team continues to deal with some injuries. Captain Brian Gionta will not play due to an upper-body injury. Marcus Foligno’s injury to his hand required surgery so Nolan said he could be out for up to two months and Torrey Mitchell remains sidelined with a lower-body injury.
Johan Larsson stayed up with the club through the break but with only 11 healthy forwards, they also recalled Mikhail Grigorenko after the morning skate.
Grigorenko has one assist in four games played with the Sabres this season.
On defense, Tyler Myers will miss his third-straight game due to a lower-body injury. But with Weber back and Tyson Strachan close to returning, the team sent Mark Pysyk down to the Amerks on Wednesday.
26 Matt Moulson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
19 Cody Hodgson – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 80 Chris Stewart
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 65 Brian Flynn – 21 Drew Stafford
22 Johan Larsson – 8 Cody McCormick – 36 Patrick Kaleta
4 Josh Gorges – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 61 Andre Benoit
51 Nikita Zadorov – 41 Andrej Meszaros
1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth
Injured: 12 Brian Gionta (upper body), 57 Tyler Myers (lower body)
Injured Reserve: 17 Torrey Mitchell (lower body), 24 Tyson Strachan (lower body), 31 Matt Hackett (knee), 82 Marcus Foligno (hand)