Riley Sheahan is listed as day to day with what coach Don Granato described as a muscular injury, so the Sabres have brought back West Seneca native Sean Malone from the Rochester roster and will put him in the lineup for Friday night's preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Penguins
Malone will be centering Anders Bjork and Victor Olofsson for the 7 p.m. game in PPG Paints Arena. It will be televised on MSG using the Penguins' feed and broadcast on WGR Radio with Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray. Malone hasn't played in a game since the Amerks' Game 3 triple-overtime loss to Laval in the third round of the Calder Cup playoffs in May.
"Just being back on the ice with the team again is exciting for me," Malone said after the morning skate in KeyBank Center prior to the flight to Pittsburgh. "Just looking forward to getting my feet wet and finally playing a game here.
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"I haven't played since last year so hopefully, the rust comes off quick. I think after the first shift, you kind of just draw on your experiences from first games."
"I’m just going to keep grinding it out and I just want to focus on starting the season healthy and feeling good going into it,” Malone said.
The Sabres enter the game 4-1 and looking to join Minnesota in going 5-1 in the preseason. Toronto, Carolina and Seattle are in a similar spot. Pittsburgh is 2-3.
Malone had a procedure in August to rectify an upper body injury that caused him to miss nearly three months last year in Rochester. He had returned to training camp practice but had to take a couple of workouts off and then get medically cleared before he could be put on waivers to go to Rochester.
"Rehab skates are one thing, but then you get into practice and you start reading plays and your body's moving differently," Malone said. "Sometimes you get tweaks and stuff like that. So we just wanted to make sure that it's 100% . Now's the time to take that time to make sure it is."
"We wanted to give him a game earlier. Health dictated that wasn't the case," Granato said. "... He has really played well in Rochester and was a guy, we want it back and tonight's an opportunity to get him in there before the season starts."
The Sabres' other lines tonight will have Dylan Cozens between Peyton Krebs and JJ Peterka, Casey Mittelstadt between Jack Quinn and Alex Tuch, and Rasmus Asplund between Zemgus Girgensons and Vinnie Hinostroza.
The defensemen playing tonight are Jacob Bryson, Kale Clague, Casey Fitzgerald, Ilya Lyubushkin and Lawrence Pilut. Eric Comrie will be in goal with Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen backing up.
Among those sitting out are Tage Thompson, Jeff Skinner, Owen Power, Rasmus Dahlin and Mattias Samuelsson.
The Penguins have not released a lineup but, given that it's a home game, it's expected to include most of their headline players.