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Spot on top line helps Ennis bust slump

Tyler Ennis' hottest stretch of the season -- a run of three goals in four games -- came while the rookie was skating alongside center Derek Roy and right wing Thomas Vanek. The slumping winger found himself with the Buffalo Sabres' top two scorers again last game, and the result was predictable.

Ennis scored twice during Tuesday's 5-2 victory over Anaheim, and he figures to skate on the top line again tonight when the Florida Panthers visit HSBC Arena.

"They're two great players to play with, so anytime you can play with them it can be fun," Ennis said Wednesday. "Van and Roysie have played together for a long time, and they seem to have really good chemistry and play well together. I'm just trying to fit in, play my game and play my style. It seems to complement it pretty good."

Ennis' two-goal night ended a decline in which he'd scored just twice in 14 games. The 21-year-old has nine goals and 18 points in 34 games.

"There's been ups and downs," he said. "It's all about being consistent, and that's what I'm working on."

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The Sabres have all eight defensemen healthy again. Shaone Morrisonn, who suffered a concussion Dec. 3, has been cleared to play. He needs more work to be ready for game situations, though, and will miss his eighth straight outing tonight.

The Sabres worked with the same defensive pairs as Tuesday's game, so captain Craig Rivet is expected to again get the call and skate with Mike Weber. Rivet played against the Ducks after an 11-game benching.

Chris Butler will be scratched for the second straight game after playing seven in a row.

"We gave Chris a real good look," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We tried to stick with him, build some confidence. I didn't like his game [Saturday] in Tampa. I met with him and just decided it was time [for Rivet]."

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Patrick Kaleta, who missed the final two periods Tuesday after getting boarded by the Ducks' Jason Blake, practiced Wednesday and said he is fine. Tim Connolly underwent successful surgery this week to reconstruct his fractured nose, suffered in Tampa. There is no timetable for the center's return.

e-mail: jvogl@buffnews.com

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