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Emotional Pominville preps for possible last game in Buffalo

Longtime Sabre will be a UFA after this season

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Jason Pominville smiled as he fired shots into an empty net following the conclusion of the Sabres' morning skate at KeyBank Center, perhaps adding a few ceremonial tallies to the population that's boomed since he burst onto the scene in Buffalo 13 years ago.

Pominville, an unrestricted free agent this summer, has maintained that a decision regarding his NHL future will be made with his family after the season. To this point, he's ruled nothing out. 

But the 36-year-old winger admitted that the possibility of playing his last game as a Sabre in Buffalo began to set in during his drive to work this morning. 

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Ristolainen set to return against Nashville

Defenseman has missed four games due to an illness

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Rasmus Ristolainen began to feel ill ahead of the Sabres' game in Ottawa last Tuesday, forcing the defenseman to be scratched from the lineup for the first time this season. Since then, he's spent a few days in bed and a few more looking to rebuild the strength he lost while sick. 

The fact that the Sabres dropped four games in that span only made matters worse. 

"You can't help the guys from the gym, so it's been tough to watch," Ristolainen said after skating with the team this morning. "Hard times, but hard times make tough people."

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McCabe, Rodrigues to return against Blue Jackets

Ullmark to start in net; Scandella out with lower-body injury

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Jake McCabe and Evan Rodrigues will return to the lineup when the Sabres host the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at KeyBank Center.

McCabe has missed 13 games since sustaining an upper-body injury against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 2. He'll replace Marco Scandella, who was injured blocking a shot in Buffalo's 5-1 loss on Long Island last night. 

"It's been a really good turnaround," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "Obviously, through this stretch of games, we haven't had a lot of quality practice time, but he's looked good in pregame skates. He's been pushed and he's ready to go."

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Okposo bracing teammates for raucous return to Coliseum

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

UNIONDALE - Kyle Okposo's most vivid memory of Nassau Coliseum occurred on May 5, 2013, prior to Game 3 of the New York Islanders' quarterfinal series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was the Islanders' first playoff game at home in six years and the first series of Okposo's career, and the atmosphere reflected it. 

"We were in the locker room before the game and literally, the locker room was shaking," Okposo said. "I'll never forget that as long as I live."

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Olofsson to make debut alongside Eichel, Reinhart

Forward will also skate on top power-play unit

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

When Rasmus Dahlin handles the puck on the power play tonight, he'll have a pair of suitable one-time options to pass to on the flanks. Jack Eichel will be in his usual spot, manning the left circle. 

Victor Olofsson will be on the right side, posing a threat that Dahlin understands as well as anyone. 

"He's probably got the best shot I've ever seen in my whole life," said Dahlin, who was Olofsson's teammate with Frolunda in the SHL last season. "I'm gonna give him the puck on the power play and hopefully he scores."

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Borgen to make NHL debut in Ottawa

Defenseman will step in for Ristolainen, who will be out with an illness

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

OTTAWA - William Borgen was eating his breakfast in Rochester this morning when he received a call to coach Chris Taylor's office. One talk with coach, several phone calls and a five-hour drive later, he was with the Sabres at Canadian Tire Centre preparing for his NHL debut.

"It was pretty crazy," he said. "I got a little nervous right away, but excited too."

Borgen will step into the lineup tonight in place of Rasmus Ristolainen, who woke up ill. Zach Bogosian will remain absent due to a lower-body injury, while Casey Mittelstadt will return at forward after sitting as healthy scratch in New Jersey last night. Vladimir Sobotka will be scratched in his place.

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Pilut, Thompson to join lineup in New Jersey

Mittelstadt gets a breather; Bogosian remains day-to-day

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

NEWARK, N.J. - Tage Thompson and Lawrence Pilut will join the lineup when the Sabres visit the New Jersey Devils tonight at Prudential Center.

Thompson will step in at forward for Casey Mittelstadt, who will be a healthy scratch. Pilut will play for Zach Bogosian, who is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. 

Sabres coach Phil Housley said that sitting for a game could benefit Mittelstadt, who has played in 70 contests as a rookie this season. He only played 47 games last season between his freshman campaign at the University of Minnesota, World Juniors and a brief stint with the Sabres. 

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Pominville set to return in Montreal

Hutton to start in net; Nylander gets top-line opportunity

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

MONTREAL - Jason Pominville has maintained a positive attitude while sitting as a healthy scratch for the past two games, earning praise from coach Phil Housley in the process. 

That said, the veteran forward admitted to smiling when he saw his name in the lineup for the Sabres' game tonight in his hometown Montreal. 

"A lot of family and friends will be here so it's always a fun place to play in," Pominville said. "As far as not playing, I don't really see it as punishment. At this point of the year, I've been in the league long enough to understand the situation we're in and know that we've got a lot of young guys they want to see play. I get that part. 

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Sabres go back to Hutton for final matchup with Leafs

Buffalo to keep same lineup from win over St. Louis

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Phil Housley will stick with the same lineup from a win over St. Louis on Sunday when the Sabres conclude their season series with the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at KeyBank Center. 

Carter Hutton will start in net, coming off a 30-save performance in that victory over the Blues. Jason Pominville, Scott Wilson and Matt Hunwick will be scratched. 

"We got a result, so we're going to stay with the same group," Housley said. 

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Hutton gets the nod in net as Sabres host Blues

Sobotka, Scandella return to lineup

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Carter Hutton will get the nod in net against his former team when the Sabres host the St. Louis Blues tonight at KeyBank Center. 

Hutton appeared in 62 games with the Blues over the past two seasons. He also got the start in Buffalo's game in St. Louis on Dec. 27, when he stopped 28 of 32 shots in a 4-1 loss. 

Vladimir Sobotka - another former Blues player - will return to the lineup in place of Jason Pominville, while Marco Scandella will be back from a one-game absence caused by an upper-body injury. Scandella will replace Matt Hunwick on defense.

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