BUFFALO – Sometimes, Sabres winger Tyler Ennis said, he has to realize he’s only 5-foot-5 and not a 6-foot-3 behemoth. Trying to thump a larger opponent usually isn’t the best idea.
Ennis, who’s listed at 5-foot-9, went after someone bigger Thursday and paid the price, suffering an upper-body injury. The Sabres’ top offensive threat missed two games but will return tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“Maybe I got to tone down the hits,” Ennis said this morning inside the First Niagara Center.
The Sabres did well without their leading scoring, scoring seven goals and pumping 74 shots on goal while going 1-1.
“Maybe we got a little bit scared without him,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “Maybe we had to do a little bit more.”
Ennis has a team-high 19 goals and 42 points. A third 20-goal season would be meaningful.
“There’s milestones, markers to hit,” Ennis said. “It would be nice to get one tonight.”
In other news, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who’s sick, could miss tonight’s contest. Nolan didn’t sound optimistic the minute-muncher would be able to play. Tyson Strachan would likely replace Ristolainen.
Meanwhile, goalie Anders Lindback will start again. Matt Hackett is still sore, so Andrey Makarov will back Lindback up.
Lindback looked sharp in Monday’s 4-1 win in Phoenix, stopping 28 shots. The Sabres savored that victory against the Coyotes, who had beaten them three days earlier in Buffalo.
The home crowd cheered for Arizona throughout that game. Could the same happen tonight? The Sabres still haven’t locked up 30th place.
“They’ll be here tonight to cheer loud, and especially against Toronto,” Nolan said.
Nolan also said Zemgus Girgensons, out since blocking a shot Feb. 24, is likely done for the season. The Sabres have one extra forward, Tim Schaller.
Update: Schaller has been sent down.