While the Ottawa Senators continue to play with a depleted roster, the Buffalo Sabres might get a handful of players back on the ice Saturday.
The Sabres will try to use that to their advantage as they seek a third straight home win and their first victory in three matchups with the Senators this season.
Among Ottawa's injured players are top goaltender Craig Anderson, reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, star center Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek, a 35-goal scorer last season.
Those absences have taken a toll, with the Senators (13-8-6) going 1-2-4 in their last seven games and 2-7-3 in their past 12 on the road. They suffered their second shootout loss in as many contests Wednesday, 4-3 in Montreal.
Defenseman Patrick Wiercioch helped his team salvage another point with his third goal in five games.
"It'd be nice to get a couple more wins. I know one point is good and we have lots of guys out, but we're playing good," goaltender Robin Lehner said. "It would be nice to have those guys, but a lot of other players are stepping up and we're playing close games. The two points would help us a little more."
Ottawa has tabbed Ben Bishop to start in net Saturday. He had yielded two goals or fewer in five straight starts before giving up five in his most recent outing, a 5-4 loss March 6 at Toronto.
The Sabres (10-14-3) have also struggled with some injuries, but they snapped a four-game skid with a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday.
Ryan Miller missed that game due to a sinus infection and Jhonas Enroth made 32 saves in his place. Miller may return to the crease Saturday, and Ville Leino is expected to make his long-awaited season debut.
Leino has missed the first 27 games with a hip injury. The winger signed a six-year, $27 million contract with Buffalo before last season but registered only 25 points in 71 games after posting 53 with Philadelphia in 2010-11.
"It's been really annoying, a lot of frustration," Leino told the Sabres' official website. "It's been a tough time but hopefully it pays off now and I'm really excited to get back."
Interim coach Ron Rolston also said there's a "strong possibility" that center Tyler Ennis (head) would return after sitting out one game. Ennis has five goals in his last five games against the Senators.
Rolston, however, also announced Thursday that defenseman Alexander Sulzer is expected to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn right ACL.
Buffalo has lost five of its last six against Ottawa, including two in regulation this season. The Senators scored all of their goals in a 4-3 win Feb. 5 in the first 28:12, and they didn't need much offense in another home matchup a week later as Anderson made 42 saves in a 2-0 victory.
The Sabres, though, have earned at least one point in five straight home games against Ottawa, going 3-0-2.
Buffalo defenseman Jordan Leopold, who returned from an upper-body injury Tuesday, has four goals and four assists in his last eight games against the Senators. Ottawa's Erik Condra has four goals and two assists in his last five versus Buffalo.
The Senators might get Matt Kassian on the ice for the first time Saturday. The winger was acquired Tuesday from Minnesota.
The Associated Press News Service
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