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Hutton back at practice, likely to return to Sabres' lineup this week

Good news from the Buffalo Sabres Monday in HarborCenter: It seems like Carter Hutton's absence is going to be a short-term one.

The team's starting goaltender participated fully in practice over both rinks and is on target to return this week. Hutton has been nursing an upper-body injury and had not been on the ice with his teammates since taking the morning skate prior to Tuesday's overtime loss to Toronto.

He was not dressed for Saturday's loss to Philadelphia as Linus Ullmark made his second-straight start. It's unclear if Hutton will start Tuesday night in KeyBank Center against Los Angeles but the Sabres have three other games this week -- here Thursday against Arizona as well as road games Saturday at Washington and Sunday at Boston -- and it seems like Hutton will be ready for duty in those.

"It's good to see him back on the ice. He looked really good," said coach Phil Housley. "We'll talk to the trainers after today and see where he is tomorrow. It was good to see him back battling. He looked like his old self back there. I'm sure he was glad to be back out on the ice after this little stint."

Hutton was cryptic when asked about his situation.

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"Just a little maintenance, a little banged up. We'll be all right," said Hutton, who is tied for fifth in the NHL among goalies with 12 wins. "The skate went well. For now, we'll just go with that."

Hutton had more to say when asked about the team's five-game losing streak, which seemed to come to a head with the third-period collapse in Saturday's 6-2 loss to the Flyers. Buffalo is now 0-3-2 after its 10-game winning streak.

"Things were just rolling and it seems like it was easy but it wasn't easy," Hutton said. "It was really hard. All of those games we won were really tough and I think we just have to get back to the grind of it and appreciate how hard it is in this league.

"The parity in this league, you take a few minutes off and teams make you pay. It's something we have to embrace a little bit more, the grind of it. Get back to what we were doing."

The Sabres did not make any major shifts in personnel Monday. Housley had Tage Thompson on the third line with Vladimir Sobotka and Jason Pominville, returned Kyle Okposo to the second line with Conor Sheary and Casey Mittelstadt and gave Rasmus Dahlin a chance at the point on the top power play with Rasmus Ristolainen.

"We've changed lines even when we've been winning games," Housley said. "We're trying to find the right balance just moving some guys around and we'll see how that plays out tomorrow."

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