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Ennis returns as Sabres host stars

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Tyler Ennis will make his return from a 30-game absence for the Buffalo Sabres when they host the Dallas Stars at KeyBank Center on Monday afternoon. Ennis has been out since Nov. 7, when he was forced to undergo surgery to repair an injury to his groin.

Ennis will play on a line with Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo and, if the team's practice on Sunday is any indication, could step in right away on the second power-play unit. 

"Getting up to his speed I think will be a challenge for him over the next two weeks but you'd like to see him get in there with good players and good lines and see how effective he could be," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said.

Speed what Ennis hopes to bring to the lineup when he is feeling 100 percent, but it's also what the Sabres will expect from their opponent on Monday. Much like Buffalo's last two opponents in Tampa Bay and Carolina, Dallas boasts a fast lineup led by All-Star Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.

Dallas also relies on long plays to move quickly up the ice, a strategy that can lead to goals but can also lead to opportunities the other way. The Stars have allowed 134 goals this season, the fourth-highest mark in the NHL. 

"I think we have to play a patient game, a responsible game to get the opportunities that I think will come in the game," Bylsma said. "You have to play defense against this group, you have to be aware what side of the check you're on and if you do so you'll get opportunities, I believe, going back the other way. If you play a run-and-gun game up and down the ice with this team, you're going to be in for a lot of tough scoring chances against."

Robin Lehner, back from a three-game absence with the flu, will start in net for the Sabres.

Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. with the Tops Pregame Show on MSG-B, or you can listen live on WGR 550. The puck drops between the Stars and Sabres at 1 p.m. 


Projected lineup

63 Tyler Ennis - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
82 Marcus Foligno - 15 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
9 Evander Kane - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 12 Brian Gionta
48 William Carrier - 44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 26 Matt Moulson

29 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
47 Zach Bogosian - 6 Cody Franson
41 Justin Falk - 38 Taylor Fedun

40 Robin Lehner
31 Anders Nilsson

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