Henrik Tallinder will make his return to the lineup after missing the past four games with an upper-body injury. He’ll be paired with Tyler Myers when the Buffalo Sabres take on the Minnesota Wild on Monday at First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m.
The game can be seen on NBCSN and TSN2. It can be heard live on WGR 550.
The Sabres will have to make a roster move in order to activate Tallinder from injured reserve. Rookie defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen and six-year pro Alexander Sulzer will be healthy scratches against Minnesota and are candidates to be sent down to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.
Sabres coach Ron Rolston said after the morning skate that a decision hasn’t yet been made, but will be prior to the game.
Ristolainen, 18, was Buffalo’s top pick (eighth overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft. In six games this season, he’s averaged 16:47 of ice time and registered seven shots on goal.
“He plays with a lot of poise. He’s good positionally. He moves the puck well, heavy shot,” Rolston said. "But he’s learning the game and the speed and the tempo and playing against some of these top forwards in the League, so it’s a big learning curve.”
Ristolainen’s played both on the power play and penalty kill, but Rolston said would he like to see the 6-foot-4, 219-pound Finnish defenseman improve his stick work and play in front of the net.
“He puts himself in good position a lot and he’s a big body. But again, the speed in the League, he’s still adjusting to and the traffic in the offensive zone, he’s still adjusting to,” Rolston said. “Again, he’s a young, young player and he’s done a good job for his experience in the League so far.”
Sulzer started the season with the Amerks and made his season debut with Buffalo against Chicago on Saturday. He logged 19:20 of ice time with three blocked shots.
Johnas Enroth was the first goaltender off the ice and is expected to start.
Former Sabres captain Jason Pominville will play his first game against Buffalo since the team traded him and a 2014 fourth-round pick to Minnesota at the trade deadline last season for center Johan Larsson, goaltender Matt Hackett, a 2013 first-round pick (defenseman Nikita Zadorov) and a 2014 second-round pick.
Sabres co-captain Thomas Vanek played with Pominville for parts of nine seasons, including one in Rochester. He said it will probably be strange at first to see Pominville lined up against him. However, his team’s focus will have to be on playing a good game. The Sabres are still looking for their first victory of the season. Through six games, they're 0-5-1.
“Obviously it’s going to be weird, but at the same time, that’s part of the business, part of the game,” Vanek said. “For us right now, we need to focus on what we did well in the past few games and continue to do those more throughout the game.”
26 Thomas Vanek – 19 Cody Hodgson – 9 Steve Ott
82 Marcus Foligno – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 65 Brian Flynn
12 Kevin Porter – 22 Johan Larsson – 8 Cody McCormick
10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain
1 Jhonas Enroth
30 Ryan Miller
Scratched: 32 John Scott, 52 Alexander Sulzer, 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
Suspended: 36 Patrick Kaleta