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Sabres look to enter break on a winning note in Vancouver

Ullmark to start in net; Skinner will be game-time decision

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

VANCOUVER - With a nine-day break ahead of them, the Buffalo Sabres have a chance to enter their bye week on a winning note when they visit the Vancouver Canucks tonight at Rogers Arena.  

The Sabres have split the first two contests of their three-game swing through Western Canada, which they opened with a loss in Edmonton on Monday before rebounding with an overtime victory in Calgary on Wednesday. A win tonight would bring their points percentage on the road back above .500. 

Kyle Okposo said they'll be looking to employ the same mentality they had against the Flames, when they erased a third-period deficit against the top team in the Western Conference.

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Dahlin, Sabres look ahead to tough test in Calgary

Ullmark gets the nod in net against high-powered Flames

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

CALGARY - Rasmus Dahlin received plenty of praise for his performance against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night, but the rookie defenseman said the bottom line - a 7-2 loss - overshadowed any thought of personal success. 

"When the team plays like that, you don't think about your game that much," he said. "I mean, we started off good. I started off good. But it was not a good game so I can't say I played a good game."

Dahlin and the Sabres will look to right the ship tonight when they visit the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. The Flames lead the Western Conference with 64 points this season and rank second in the NHL with an average of 3.68 goals per game. They're 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, coming off a 7-1 win over Arizona. 

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Sabres look to continue success against McDavid, Oilers

Buffalo has won last four games against Edmonton

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

EDMONTON - Rasmus Ristolainen knows as well as anyone that stopping the Edmonton Oilers begins with slowing down No. 97. 

The defenseman knocked on the wooden stall in the visitors' dressing room at Rogers Place when reminded he'd done a pretty good job at it in the past. 

"It's a challenge for me, for the team, every [time]," Ristolainen said. "He's a top-two player in the world right now so you know it's a big challenge. You want to see where you're at and as a team too. If you want to get two points tonight, you've got to start shutting him down first."

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Sabres look to rebound at home vs. Lightning

Ullmark gets the nod against NHL's top-scoring team

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Linus Ullmark will start in net when the Buffalo Sabres host the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at KeyBank Center. 

Ullmark is coming off a 39-save effort in the team's 2-1 loss in Boston last Saturday, which snapped a four-game personal winning streak. The rest of the lineup will remain unchanged from Buffalo's 4-3 loss in Carolina on Friday. 

The loss to the Hurricanes could be chalked up in part to bad bounces - three of the Hurricanes' goals went in off Sabres players - but Phil Housley stressed the need for better decision making if they're to have a better outcome against the Lightning.

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All-Star Skinner ready to face former club for 1st time tonight

Eichel to return to lineup against Carolina

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - Before it was announced that he had been voted into the 2019 NHL All-Star Game, Jeff Skinner fielded questions from a large scrum of reporters at PNC Arena about his time with the Carolina Hurricanes, his remarkable first season with the Buffalo Sabres and playing his former club for the first time.

Tonight marks a homecoming of sorts for Skinner, who spent 579 games over eight seasons with the Hurricanes before being traded to Buffalo in August. He ranks fifth in Hurricanes/Whalers history in goals (204), seventh in points (379) and ninth in games played. He won the Calder Trophy as the league's Rookie of the Year in 2011.

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Eichel out, Reinhart a game-time decision vs. Devils

Forward skated Tuesday after missing back-to-back practices with illness

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Jack Eichel will be out for the third straight game when the Buffalo Sabres host the New Jersey Devils at KeyBank Center on Tuesday night.

Eichel skated with the team Tuesday morning after participating in the latter half of practice on Monday. Sabres coach Phil Housley said the team is being cautious with his return from an upper-body injury, with their next game not until Friday in Carolina. 

Despite the absence of their captain, the Sabres did receive good news regarding two other forwards. Zemgus Girgensons will return from a four-game absence, while Sam Reinhart is a game-time decision after missing the last two practices due to an illness.

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Sabres look to carry strong defensive play into series finale with Bruins

Lineup will remain the same from Thursday's win over Florida, including a second straight start for Ullmark

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

BOSTON - With one last opportunity to gain points against the division rival Boston Bruins, the Buffalo Sabres will look to be on their toes from the opening puck drop at TD Garden on Saturday night. 

The Sabres will be without captain Jack Eichel, out for the second straight game with an upper-body injury. Eichel has a history of stepping up in his hometown, most recently with a four-point outing in the Sabres' 4-2 win over the Bruins on Dec. 16. 

Then again, the Sabres proved in their 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday that they're ready to answer the bell in Eichel's absence, too. Sam Reinhart (1+1) and Jeff Skinner (2+0) contributed multi-point efforts, but it took a full-team effort. to secure the victory. 

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Eichel to miss next 2 games, Pilut to rejoin lineup vs. Panthers

Sabres captain is day-to-day with upper-body injury

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

While evaluations on Jack Eichel's upper-body injury did produce encouraging news for the long term, Sabres coach Phil Housley announced Thursday that the forward will miss at least the next two games. 

Eichel left Buffalo's game against the New York Islanders on Monday after skating 2:42 in the first period. He had been ruled a game-time decision that morning after taking a maintenance day for the team's practice on Sunday.

The Sabres captain is in the midst of a career year with a team-best 49 points (15+34) in 40 games. He was selected to his second All-Star Game on Wednesday. 

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Smith to make season debut, Eichel a game-time decision vs. Islanders

Lineup decisions to come ahead of New Year's Eve matchup

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

C.J. Smith's first NHL opportunity came amid a whirlwind stretch in the spring of 2017, when he signed his entry-level deal with the Sabres upon the conclusion of his junior season at UMass Lowell. His debut in Buffalo came exactly a week removed from his final collegiate game, a quarterfinal loss to Notre Dame. 

Smith tallied an assist in his debut against the New York Islanders, then played one more game before the season ended. He admits he may have taken the experience for granted, given how quickly it all happened.

He won't make that mistake again. Smith was recalled on Monday for the first time since that two-game stint and will be in the lineup for the Sabres' New Year's Eve matchup with the Islanders.

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Pominville, Beaulieu to return for matchup with Bruins

Girgensons week-to-week with upper-body injury

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Jason Pominville and Nathan Beaulieu will be back in the lineup for the Sabres when they host the Atlantic Division rival Boston Bruins at KeyBank Center on Saturday night. Pominville and Beaulieu are returning from absences of three and five games, respectively. 

Pominville will step in for Zemgus Girgensons, who coach Phil Housley announced is week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Rookie defenseman Lawrence Pilut will be scratched to make room in the lineup for Beaulieu. 

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