BUFFALO – In Sunday’s 3-2 shootout win against Detroit, four Sabres defensemen – Josh Gorges, Tyler Myers, Andrej Meszaros and Rasmus Ristolainen – skated more than 25 minutes.
Expect to see the defensemen play big minutes tonight against the Montreal Canadiens inside the First Niagara Center. To Sabres coach Ted Nolan, it’s no big deal.
“Twenty, 24 minutes a day is not too hard, I don’t think,” Nolan said. “It’s 24 minutes of a 24-hour day. So you have lots of time to rest and rejuvenate and refocus. If we do it again, there’s enough space in between to rest.”
Ristolainen’s the biggest surprise in the 25-minute group. The 20-year-old didn’t crack the 20-minute mark this season until Saturday. The Finn skated a career-high 25 minutes, 30 seconds on Sunday.
“He’s really matured as a player almost game by game,” Nolan said. “The one thing about him, he’s a real student of the game. He works at it in practice. He’s always in the coaching room asking for tape. For a young guy to do that and take the initiative himself, you can really tell he’s going to be a good one down the road.”
The Sabres will use the same lineup a second straight game, meaning defensemen Andre Benoit and Mike Weber will be scratched. Winger Johan Larsson will replace the “banged up” Marcus Foligno again. Goalie Michal Neuvirth will start.
Weber, who’s passionate on and off the ice, had played every game before sitting Sunday.
Nolan said Weber will “get back in.”
“Wins are few and far between,” Nolan said. “Last game I thought we played pretty well. You don’t want to mess with that. Mike’s one of those guys, he gives you what he has.”
The Canadiens, meanwhile, lost 5-0 at home to Chicago on Tuesday. A reporter informed Nolan the Habs are susceptible to giving up the first goal.
“We’re susceptible to not getting the first goal,” Nolan said. “We’ll see what happens.”