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Sabres' Okposo set to return; Bailey 'sent down' to Amerks

Kyle Okposo is ready to play. He's eager to make an impact.

The formerly concussed right winger is expected to return to the lineup Monday when Buffalo hosts Nashville. Okposo has missed three games since colliding with Ottawa's Bobby Ryan on March 8.

"All signs look like a go," Sabres coach Phil Housley said Sunday.

Okposo wants to use the final three weeks of the season to re-establish himself as a premier forward. He is having one of the worst statistical years of his career with 11 goals, 38 points and a minus-29 rating in 65 games.

"You have to prove yourself every night in this league," Okposo said in KeyBank Center. "Obviously, we're not going to make the playoffs and you can say, 'Oh, these guys have nothing to play for,' but every night you get to play in the National Hockey League is special. You can't take that for granted because it goes by pretty quick."

While Okposo has eclipsed last season's assist total of 26, he is on pace for his worst goal output since scoring four times in 48 games during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

"I've got a personal number I'd like to hit with my own goals, assists and points and shots," the 29-year-old said. "It's been a real struggle personally for me this year, I think a down year for me. I'm just trying to work as hard as I can and make a positive impact on this group and just try and lead by example with my work ethic and preparation.

"I'm just going to try and get back to where I want to be."

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Okposo had 22 goals and 64 points in 79 games with the New York Islanders two seasons ago, prompting Buffalo to sign him to a seven-year, $42 million deal.

"I think it's just trying to fit into the team concept, get his legs underneath him, getting little bumps in there to see where he is at that point," Housley said. "If he is to play tomorrow, just his overall 200-foot game.

"He's a power forward. Use that down low in the offensive zone, get your body over and hang onto it, get to the net, add to our power play like he has in the past. I think just defensively just getting his reads, just his awareness back in our zone."

Okposo practiced on a line with center Evan Rodrigues and left wing Seth Griffith, but Justin Bailey could replace Griffith against the Predators. The Sabres assigned Bailey to Rochester on Sunday so he could serve his one-game American Hockey League suspension, but his equipment was still in his Buffalo locker.

"He might be coming back," Housley said.

Forward Zemgus Girgensons skipped practice after leaving Saturday's win over Chicago with a first-period injury.

"Zemgus is day to day," Housley said, "so we'll see where he is each and every day as we move forward."

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