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Sabres at Wild preview: Patrick Kaleta returns

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Kaleta will play his first game in over a year as the Sabres try to snap their losing streak against the slumping Wild.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

Game #18

Buffalo Sabres (3-12-2) at
Minnesota Wild (7-7-0)

Puck Drop: 8:00 pm EST | Xcel Energy Center | St. Paul, MN
TV: MSG, Bell, FS-N, FS-WI | Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Wild Blog: Hockey Wilderness

Three Questions

1. How will Patrick Kaleta look in his first game back?

Kaleta will be playing his first game of the season tonight, having recovered from a nasty preseason injury that saw him take a puck to the face, and his first game in over a calendar year thanks to the ACL injury he suffered in Rochester last November. It's obviously an exciting moment for him, but Kaleta will need t prove he can adjust his game to fit not only what the Sabres need from him, but also an NHL discipline system that will be watching him very closely.

2. Can Tyler Myers deal with the anchor of Andre Benoit he'll have to drag around all night?

Since the beginning of the season, the pairing of Tyler Myers and Josh Gorges has been Buffalo's go-to #1 pairing, and the two have performed pretty well defensively together. However, Gorges suffered an injury on Tuesday, and will be replaced by the recently-benched Andre Benoit. We'll also keep an eye on how this affects the ice time and special teams opportunities for Nikita Zadorov and Rasmus Ristolainen.

3. Will the Sabres keep their former stars in check?

Two of the most important Sabres of the past decade - Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville - now both play for the Wild. Vanek is off the a very slow start, with just one goal in 14 games, but regardless of his poor showing (and money problems) these two should have a little extra pep in their step tonight playing against their former team. They're two of Minnesota's most important forwards, so keeping them under wraps will be one of the keys to victory for Buffalo.

Projected BUF Lineup

Moulson - Girgensons - Ennis
Flynn - Mitchell - Gionta
Foligno - Stafford - Stewart
McCormick - Hodgson - Kaleta

Benoit - Myers
Zadorov - Ristolainen
Weber - Strachan

Goal: Jhonas Enroth