Sabres captain Gionta makes season debut tonight

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Buffalo will get a big piece of the lineup back on Thursday, as it looks for its second straight win.

Captain Brian Gionta, who hasn’t played this year due to a lower-body injury, will make his season debut when the Sabres take on the Panthers at the BB&T Center in Florida.

The 36-year-old doesn’t look as though he’ll be eased back into the lineup, either. He’s going to play on a line with Evander Kane and Jack Eichel, reuniting a trio that impressed head coach Dan Bylsma during the preseason, and made an impression on the 18-year-old Eichel.

“It’s going to be great,” Eichel said. “Obviously you get your captain back, that means a lot to your team … veteran presence, a guy who works really hard away from the puck and he’ll do anything to help the team win.

“I think it’s good for me having a guy like that on my line. He can play any position, any situation so it’s a good get for us.”

Gionta actually had a fairly decent scoring campaign in ’14-15, scoring 13 goals and 35 points in just 69 games played. That was a slightly higher points-per-game clip than in his final year with the Canadiens.