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Carter Hutton's status uncertain for Sabres' game against Toronto

Buffalo Sabres coach Ralph Krueger is awaiting word on whether his starting goalie will be available to play Sunday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs in KeyBank Center.

Carter Hutton, who has started six of eight games since Linus Ullmark suffered a lower-body injury Jan. 28, missed practice Saturday in LECOM Harborcenter for what the Sabres called "maintenance." Krueger told the media that Hutton's absence is not related to the goalie's collision with Columbus Blue Jackets winger Eric Robinson in the third period Thursday night.

With Hutton's status uncertain, the Sabres recalled goalie Andrew Hammond from Rochester on Saturday.

"Carter, we’re quite optimistic about his rehab day today, and there was a different action, actually," Krueger said. "It wasn’t the hit that caused the situation we’re battling with right now."

Hutton, 34, went almost four months without winning a game, posting a 0-8-4 record and .872 save percentage from Oct. 24 through Jan. 30. He has since gone 4-2 with a .902 save percentage, winning each of his past three starts.

Hutton, who posted consecutive shutouts while winning his first six starts of the season, made 28 saves in a 4-2 overtime win over Columbus on Thursday. Jake McCabe came to Hutton's defense after the collision with Robinson by repeatedly cross-checking the Blue Jackets winger. The action resulted in McCabe receiving a double-minor for cross-checking, though the Sabres managed to kill off the ensuing power play.

“First of all, I thought Hutts got clipped a little bit high for me," Krueger said following the win. "We ended up with a penalty kill --- that was not really quite mathematically logical, but let’s take it for that. I thought the reaction and the way the guys defend each other as a group is strong right now if those situations occur. But it was, of course, important. We need to fight for each other here and we’ve got to battle every night."

Jonas Johansson will likely make his third career start if Hutton is unavailable Sunday against Toronto. Johansson has gone 0-1-1 with an .889 save percentage in three games since joining the Sabres.

Hammond, meanwhile, could serve as the Sabres' backup for the second time in one week. He was recalled before puck drop last Sunday because Hutton was dealing with what the Sabres called a family situation.

Hammond, 32, has gone 13-11-2 with a .905 save percentage during his first season with Rochester. He last appeared in an NHL game with the Colorado Avalanche on April 22, 2018, a 5-0 first-round playoff loss to the Nashville Predators in which he allowed five goals on 37 shots.

The pending unrestricted free agent is best known for his remarkable run with the Ottawa Senators in 2015, when he went 20-1-2 with a .943 save percentage to help the team qualify for the playoffs.

Gilmour arrives

Defenseman John Gilmour was also recalled from Rochester on Saturday, hours before the Sabres assigned Zach Bogosian to the Amerks.

Gilmour, 26, appeared in four NHL games after making Buffalo's roster out of training camp. He has six goals with seven assists and a minus-14 rating in 32 games since joining the Amerks in November.

Gilmour was recalled because the Sabres wanted a seventh defenseman and preferred to have Lawrence Pilut play games with Rochester this weekend. In other roster news, Marcus Johansson (upper body) returned to practice and is on track to be in the lineup Sunday night, and Michael Frolik was absent because of an illness. The latter's availability will be determined prior to the 7 p.m. puck drop against Toronto.

Series finale

Jack Eichel is anticipating an emotional game Sunday night. Prior to Toronto's game in Ottawa on Saturday night, the Sabres (26-24-8) were eight points behind the Maple Leafs (30-20-8) for third place in the Atlantic Division.

With a win Sunday, the Sabres will take the season series over Toronto for the first time since 2016. Buffalo won the first matchup this season, 6-4, before losing once in overtime and once in regulation.

Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson, who is out six-to-eight weeks because of knee surgery, joined an injury report this week that also includes Cody Ceci (ankle), Morgan Rielly (foot) and Ilya Mikheyev (wrist). Frederik Andersen will start in goal for Toronto.

"The emotions will automatically be there because it’s Toronto," Eichel said. "The environment should be a good one. It’s an important game for both sides. Obviously, we’re trying to find points any way we can and put ourselves in the best position moving forward and they’re the same way. We just have to be ready to play. We know it’s going to be a tough night."

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