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Five Things to Know as Sabres host Canucks

After an up-and-down road trip, the Sabres are home again.

Here are Five Things to Know as Vancouver visits KeyBank Center on Friday (7 p.m., MSG, WGR-AM 550).

1. Fully completely

The Sabres finished with a strong third period during Tuesday's 5-4 overtime loss in Vegas, but coach Phil Housley was critical of a lackadaisical start. It won't be acceptable Friday.

"Once we're in the room here altogether, everyone seems like they're ready to go," right wing Jason Pominville said after the morning skate. "But at the same time, you're kind of on your own to get yourself ready and make sure you're ready to get your body moving before the puck drops.

"It's getting your mind and body ready to go."

Sabres continue to battle consistency issues

2. Escape is at hand for the traveling man

Russian import Victor Antipin was sent to the press box for the previous four games, but the defenseman will be in the lineup against the Canucks. Antipin had no points, one shot and a minus-4 rating in the opening three games.

He said watching the NHL game was good for him, and the Sabres hope he puts his newly gained knowledge to use.

"Just overall defending," Housley said. "He's come a long way in that regard with a good stick position and body position. He's got to use his speed. That's one asset he has is just to close quickly and create that body position early so we can control that guy getting to the net. And just making that first pass out of the zone.

"He's got to use his strengths, which are his skating and his mobility, and then hopefully add to the rush."

The Sabres' defense pairs are expected to be Marco Scandella-Rasmus Ristolainen, Nathan Beaulieu-Matt Tennyson and Jake McCabe-Antipin.

Taylor Fedun will be the healthy scratch after getting recalled from Rochester.

Taylor Fedun was recalled for insurance, but the defenseman is ready to contribute to the Sabres

3. Looking for a place to happen

Sam Reinhart has goals in two straight games, and they were his first tallies of the season. They came at right wing, but injuries are forcing him back to center.

Housley expects the same Reinhart no matter which position he plays.

"Sam early on in the exhibition games was pretty good at the center position," Housley said. "He found his niche going back to the wing. He was contributing. That's not going to take away any area of his game going to the middle. He's still going to be effective. He's got to play a 200-foot game."

Here are the Sabres' lines:

Evander Kane-Jack Eichel-Pominville
Justin Bailey-Ryan O'Reilly-Kyle Okposo
Benoit Pouliot-Reinhart-Seth Griffith
Matt Moulson-Johan Larsson-Jordan Nolan

4. Fireworks

Old friend Thomas Vanek is back in Buffalo, this time as a member of the Canucks. He's been lighting things up.

Vanek has three goals in six games, including the last two. He scored during Thursday night's 6-3 loss in Boston, a setback that dropped the Canucks to 2-3-1.

"He's definitely a guy that we'll have to keep an eye on," Pominville said. "He could put the puck in the back of the net and can make plays and can be a difference.

"I think things will work out pretty well for him there if he can be healthy and play the way we all know he's capable of playing."

The Canucks also have former Sabres goaltender Anders Nilsson. He is 1-1 with a .918 save percentage in two appearances.

Inside the Sabres: Nilsson proudly waves pride flag

5. Long time running

Sabres goalie Chad Johnson will make his third straight start. Robin Lehner returned to practice after skipping Thursday's workout due to illness, but Housley is going back to Johnson.

The netminder has Buffalo's only victory and is 1-1-1 with a .863 save percentage.

Sabres Notebook: Ryan Vinz returns to crease; Lehner on long list of absent players

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