Buffalo Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan is expecting to start Ryan Miller in goal tonight against Carolina, even though Miller didn’t arrive back in in Buffalo from the Olympics until Monday afternoon.
The Sabres and Hurricanes are the only NHL teams playing tonight so it’s a short turnaround for the veteran goalie from the nine-hour time difference of Russia. And Miller was not yet in town to practice with the team Monday.
“That will be like playing at 4 a.m. for him,” joked Nolan. “It will be a different challenge but hopefully he has some sleep and will be somewhat awake at some point.”
“I’m sure it will be tough,” said defenseman Tyler Myers. “Having done a couple of those overseas trips, it’s never a good feeling right when you get back. We’re going to have to help him out as much as we can.
Nolan said it crossed the team’s mind to recall a goalie from Rochester before it decided to stay with Miller. Still, Nolan did not 100 percent eliminate the thought of a callup of Matt Hackett or Nathan Lieuwen from the Amerks so Miller and backup Jhonas Enroth could get another day of rest after the long flight.
“It still could be crossed,” Nolan said.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have ruled star forward Steven Stamkos out of their upcoming four-game road trip — and Stamkos said Monday he is now targeting his return from a broken leg to come March 6 at home against the Sabres.
Stamkos said an X-ray taken of his surgically repaired right tibia Monday “looks really good” and he has another evaluation March 5. He broke the leg Nov. 11 when he crashed into the goalpost during a game in Boston and the injury prevented him from playing for Team Canada in Sochi.
Stamkos had 14 goals and nine assists in 17 games before the injury. He had a career-high 60 goals and 97 points in the 2011-12 season.
Stamkos pushed to return to the Olympics but was ruled out Feb. 5 and teammate Martin St. Louis went in his place.
“I think now it was kind of a relief for that whole thing to be over and done with,” Stamkos said. “Just to get all that stuff out of the way and to focus on one thing and that’s getting back and playing for Tampa.”
Sabres enforcer John Scott was expected to be a healthy scratch tonight anyway but he’s certainly deep in Nolan’s doghouse now after getting tossed out of practice Monday.
Observers heard a loud bellow from Scott, who smashed his stick on the boards, tossed it on the ice and then slammed the bench door as he exited the rink midway through the workout. Scott had been working out on defense with Henrik Tallinder still not back from the Olympics.
Nolan’s conversation with Scott on the ice was muted and not any indication there was an issue. In fact, Scott’s eruption had observers thinking there was an injury involved.
Scott was not in the locker room during the time reporters were inside and the real issue was not learned until Nolan met the media a few minutes later.
“He just fumbled the puck a few times in practice and I didn’t like it,” Nolan said. “In order for us to get better here, we have to practice better. He just had one of those moments I didn’t like so I sent him off.”
Like the Sabres, Carolina had four players in the Olympics and all four should be in the lineup tonight.
Tuomo Ruutu earned a bronze medal playing for Finland. and ranked tied for second among all skaters with a plus-6 rating. Had had five points in six games and was tied for third in the tournament with four assists.
Former Buffalo defenseman Andrej Sekera was fourth in the tournament in time on ice per game (24:05) and earned two assists in four games for Slovakia. Justin Faulk skated a total of 9:12 in two games for Team USA, while Alexander Semin registered an assist and was (+2) in five games for Russia.
Sekera had his first career three-point game here on Jan. 23 as the Canes posted a 5-3 win in Buffalo in his first game against his former team.
Carolina has won four straight against Buffalo and is 5-0-1 in its last six against the Sabres. Buffalo’s lone win in that stretch was a 3-2 overtime triumph here on March 9, 2012 on a power-play goal by Jason Pominville. … The Sabres haven’t lost five straight to the Canes since they were the Hartford Whalers in 1989. … The Sabres are reminding fans that tickets from the Jan. 7 postponement will be honored at the gates tonight.