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Preview: Scandella and Pominville Return to Minnesota

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Marco Scandella and Jason Pominville return to Minnesota in tonight’s matchup against the Wild

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Anaheim Ducks Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Game #40

Buffalo Sabres (10-20-9) vs. Minnesota Wild (21-16-3)

Season Series: 11/22 - Wild 5, Sabres 4

Puck drop: 8:00 p.m. EST | Xcel Energy Center | St. Paul, MN

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Wild blog: Hockey Wilderness

What to Watch

1. Visiting Old Friends

Marco Scandella and Jason Pominville make their first appearance back in Minnesota since the trade this offseason. Also, we’ll get to see former Sabres forwards Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis.

2. Phil Housley turned off the blender, for now.

Practice lines yesterday seemed to indicate that Housley is keeping his lines the same for the third straight game. This is going against the trend we’ve seen from the Sabres coach all season. The team has played pretty well as of late and continuity could help maintain that.

3. Ristolainen is finding the net.

After going 28 games without a goal. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has scored in two straight games. One was a game-winner against the Devils and the other a game-tying goal against the Rangers in the Winter Classic. He also has four points total in his last two games.

Know Your Opponent

1. He’s Back

Zach Parise made his season debut for the Wild on Tuesday night. The 33-year-old has been out after having back surgery. He’s not the same player he was a few years ago, but still a welcomed addition to the lineup. Also, if you were wondering. Parise and Ryan Suter still have six years left on their contract with a $7.5 million cap hit.

2. Ennis and Foligno

Tyler Ennis scored against the Sabres in their first meeting back on November, 22nd. He’s also only scored two more goals since then. On the season Ennis has six goals and 12 points in 39 games.

Speaking of scoring droughts, Marcus Foligno hasn’t found the back of the net since November 2nd and didn’t register a single point in the month of December. He has three goals and 10 points in 37 games this season.

3. Staal continues to rack up the points.

Last season Erik Staal had a career year for the Wild scoring 28 goals and 65 points. Some expected him to come back down to earth a little this season, but that hasn’t been the case. He leads the team in goals with 17 and points with 35. Staal is on pace to beat his career highs of last season with 35 goals and 71 points this season.

Projected Lineup

28 Zemgus Girgensons - 15 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart

9 Evander Kane - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo

67 Benoit Pouliot - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 29 Jason Pominville

22 Johan Larsson - 10 Jacob Josefson - 17 Jordan Nolan

6 Marco Scandella - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

19 Jake McCabe - 47 Zach Bogosian

82 Nathan Beaulieu - 41 Justin Falk

Starting Goaltender: 40 Robin Lehner