The Sabres continue their four-game homestand Wednesday night against the Montreal Canadiens at 7:30 p.m. They could go with the same lineup that beat the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, depending on the health of left wing Marcus Foligno
Foligno did not practice Tuesday morning at First Niagara Center. He missed the game on Sunday with an injury, marking the second game he’s sat out this season.
Johan Larsson was recalled to take his place in the lineup and skated with the team again on Tuesday.
Sabres coach Ted Nolan said that they’ll evaluate Foligno before Wednesday’s game and if he’s ready to go, he’ll be in. Other than that, the personnel will remain the same.
That means Michal Neuvirth will start in goal and Nikita Zadorov and Andrej Meszaros will remain in on defense.
CHAMPING AT THE BIT
Zadorov, 19, played 12:42 against the Red Wings on Sunday on a pairing with Tyson Strachan. It was only Zadorov’s second game of the season and he more than doubled his ice time from the previous game back on Oct. 23.
The 2013 first-round pick is happy to be in the lineup and contributing. He also played 1:04 on the power play and hopes to see more time on special teams in the coming games. He hasn’t been shy to let Nolan know he would like to be on the ice more.
“That was pretty funny [Sunday],” Zadorov said. “He looked at me and started laughing when I wanted to go on the 5-on-3 because I played 5-on-3 a lot last year. I just tried to maybe look at him – maybe he’d see that I’d be ready – and just put me in and try to for like 20 seconds. He said, ‘Someday’ so we’ll see next time.”
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound defenseman is eligible to play in nine NHL games before the team must decide if they’ll keep him in Buffalo and activate the first year of his entry-level contract or send him back to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, his junior team.
Nolan has liked Zadorov’s attitude and said that the nine-game limit will not factor into how often he gets into the lineup.
Sabres captain Brian Gionta and alternate captain Josh Gorges are former Canadiens and served in those same leadership roles for Montreal. Buffalo acquired Gorges in a trade on July 1 and a few hours later, Gionta signed a three-year deal with the Sabres as an unrestricted free agent.
Gionta said he hasn’t put much thought into playing his former club. Gorges said that it might be a little strange at first, but his focus is on getting the win, no matter whom the opponent is.
“It’s a little bit of a different game, you’re playing your former team for the first time, but at the end of the day, tomorrow is two points on the line,” Gorges said. “It’s an opportunity for us to put two wins together, which we haven’t done this year – something we’ve got to focus on and that’s got to be where our heads are at coming in tomorrow night.”
Gionta is still looking for his first goal of the season.
“It always is frustrating. You want to help the team win and you want to be a part of that,” he said. “Especially when the team is losing, you want to do what you can to help – and part of that is scoring in my position. I have to do better in that aspect.”
Montreal has gotten off to a hot start – tied for first place in the Eastern Conference with 17 points – but dropped their last game to the Calgary Flames on Sunday by a 6-2 score. Tuesday night, the Canadiens are set to face Chicago at Bell Centre.
Buffalo is 2-2-1 in its past five games.
SHAKE IT UP
The Sabres tried out some new lines. Notably, Chris Stewart lined up next to center Tyler Ennis. The game-tying goal late in the third period of Sunday’s game came when Ennis found Stewart in front of the net.
“I thought [Matt] Moulson played a lot better last game. He had a little jump in his game. Maybe flipping Stewart and [Drew] Stafford, you’ll get a better result,” Nolan said. “You shake it up every day and try to get that formula.”
17 Torrey Mitchell – 63 Tyler Ennis – 80 Chris Stewart
22 Johan Larsson – 19 Cody Hodgson – 21 Drew Stafford
26 Matt Moulson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 8 Cody McCormick – 65 Brian Flynn – 36 Patrick Kaleta
4 Josh Gorges – 57 Tyler Myers
41 Andrej Meszaros – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
51 Nikita Zadorov – 24 Tyson Strachan
6 Mike Weber – 61 Andre Benoit
34 Michal Neuvirth
1 Jhonas Enroth
31 Matt Hackett