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Benched during weekend, Sabres' Okposo returns to top line

It was a quick journey from the doghouse to the penthouse for Kyle Okposo.

The right winger practiced on the top line Monday with center Jack Eichel and left wing Evander Kane. Okposo was benched for much of the Sabres' loss Friday, but an improved effort during a win Saturday elevated his status.

"I thought Kyle was fantastic, moving his feet, winning a lot of puck battles," Buffalo coach Phil Housley said in KeyBank Center. "He had a chance to win the game there at the end. Just finding a way to get involved. It might not have been on the score sheet, but certainly his game went to another level."

Okposo skated 16:31 during the 5-4 victory over Boston, and he attempted three shots (including one that rang the iron in the final minute) and delivered three hits.

"I've played better," Okposo said.

Although he was plus-1 in the game, he didn't have a point. Okposo has no goals, one assist and a minus-6 rating in seven games.

"Still looking for more, still looking for production," Okposo said. "That's something that I've prided myself on the last number of years, and it's not there right now. I thought the work was better definitely and created some opportunities … but I've got to produce."

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Here were the Sabres' lines and defense pairs for the workout:

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

Marco Scandella-Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe-Matt Tennyson/Taylor Fedun
Victor Antipin-Zach Redmond

The Sabres practiced without the injured group of forwards Zemgus Girgensons (lower body), Evan Rodrigues (hand) and Jacob Josefson (foot), and defensemen Zach Bogosian (lower body), Nathan Beaulieu (upper body), Josh Gorges (lower body) and Justin Falk (undisclosed).

Housley said Girgensons, Rodrigues and Falk skated before practice.

"That's a good sign," Housley said. "It's just intriguing to see them skating. That's the first step of getting back."

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