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Sabres vs. Panthers preview: Gionta's 1000th game

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The Sabres captain celebrates a milestone tonight as his team hosts the Florida Panthers.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Game #76

Buffalo Sabres (31-32-12) vs. Florida Panthers (33-30-11)

Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY

TV: MSG, FS-F | Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation’s Panthers Blog: Litter Box Cats

Three Questions

1. Can the Sabres play with the same intensity without the Leafs and their rowdy fans in town?

This weekend's game against Toronto was just plain fun - a division rival and their legions of fans invading the KeyBank Center made for an electric atmosphere that was contagious for fans and players alike. No offense to the Panthers, but something tells me that the atmosphere at the Key won't be quite as intense tonight as it was on Saturday. But the Sabres should still bring that same intensity to the ice if they want the same result as they got against Toronto. And who knows, play like that often enough, and the fans might start to get a little rowdier on their own...

2. If the Sabres allow fewer than seven goals tonight, does that make them better than the Blackhawks?

Florida crushed Chicago 7-0 on Saturday, so the answer to this question is obviously yes.

3. What will the team do to celebrate Gionta's milestone?

A pre-game ceremony is schedule for tonight to celebrate Brian Gionta playing in his 1,000th NHL game, something only nine other Sabres players have done. The team is handing out Gionta towels to fans and using the questionable #G1000NTA hashtag, but the ceremony itself remains shrouded in mystery. Tune in tonight on MSG to find out!

Projected Buffalo Lines

63 Tyler Ennis -- 90 Ryan O'Reilly -- 21 Kyle Okposo
82 Marcus Foligno -- 15 Jack Eichel -- 23 Sam Reinhart
Evander Kane -- 71 Evan Rodrigues -- 12 Brian Gionta
48 William Carrier -- 28 Zemgus Girgensons -- 26 Matt Moulson

29 Jake McCabe 77 Dmitry Kulikov
67 Brady Austin -- 47 Zach Bogosian
4 Josh Gorges -- 41 Justin Falk

Goal: 40 Robin Lehner