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SABRES SET TO HOST ISLANDERS IN 2015 FINALE

by Jourdon LaBarber / Buffalo Sabres

Matt Moulson will return to the lineup for the Buffalo Sabres as they look to end 2015 on a high note against the New York Islanders on Thursday at First Niagara Center.

Moulson was a healthy scratch in the team's 5-2 loss in Washington on Wednesday. He'll take the spot of Tyler Ennis, who sustained an upper-body injury in that game when he was hit hard against the boards by Alexander Ovechkin. Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said that the team is still awaiting a diagnosis on the forward.

Ennis had only played in three games since returning from an upper-body that had caused him to miss 12 contests.

"I didn't see the hit that he took, I just saw him get back up," Bylsma said. "He left the bench and I had that feeling, shaking my head at the possibility of him being injured again."

The injury opened the door for Moulson's immediate return. His being scratched was predicated by a 24-game scoreless drought, but there's reason for optimism. His last goal came on Nov. 1, in a 2-1 win against – perhaps fittingly – the Islanders.

After taking a day to clear his mind, he hopes for a similar result on Thursday.

"Maybe sometimes it allows you to get your mind right and get back to what makes you successful," Moulson said of being scratched. "I want to help contribute to this team and win. I love playing in Buffalo and want to win with this team and this organization and I know what I have to do."

Another mainstay from the Sabres' last meeting with the Islanders will be goaltender Linus Ullmark, who will start in net after making 29 saves in their first matchup. Ullmark last played in a 2-0 loss to Washington on Monday night.

The Islanders, meanwhile, are coming off of a 6-3 win in Toronto on Tuesday in which they were 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. They're currently in the midst of a franchise-record 15-game stretch without allowing a power-play goal and have been perfect in their last 39 opportunities.

"They're a lot of what we want to be on our PK," Bylsma said. "They put a lot of pressure on you and are very aggressive on you up ice. They're very difficult to get set up against and they put a lot of pressure in areas in the first eight seconds from faceoffs and dumps in [the offensive zone]."

Coverage of the game on Thursday begins at 5:30 p.m. with Tops Sabres Gamenight on MSG-B and Bell TV. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.

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