SAN JOSE -- Sharks forward Brent Burns practiced with his teammates Tuesday morning for the first time since being sidelined with a facial injury after San Jose's 6-3 victory over the Calgary Flames on Oct. 19.

Burns won't be in the lineup Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres, and Coach Todd McLellan stopped short of saying it was a big step in getting the 6-foot-5, 225-pound free-wheeling forward back in action.

"I think that's a great step — but I don't know if we're going to qualify it as little or big," McLellan said. "But he's getting closer, feeling better and back out their with his teammates."

San Jose Sharks Brent Burns (88) during a break in the action as they get ready to face-off against New York Rangers in the third period at SAP Center in
San Jose Sharks Brent Burns (88) during a break in the action as they get ready to face-off against New York Rangers in the third period at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

Burns normally has had an unkempt look the past two seasons with wild hair and a free-flowing beard. He had all that cut off for charity last week, and McLellan joked it was hard to recognize him at first.

"Didn't know who he was when he came out because he doesn't look the same, but it's nice to see him out there," the coach said.

The Sharks are facing a Buffalo team that has struggled all season and enters the game at 2-13-1. But McLellan cautioned that the record means nothing once the game begins.

"Paper doesn't mean anything," he said. "Throw paper out window. . . . Either of their two goaltenders, whoever plays tonight, they're world class and we have to find a way to beat them, not make them look like first stars."

Antti Niemi appeared to be getting the start in goal for San Jose and it looked as if the only lineup change for the Sharks after their 3-2 shootout loss against the Phoenix Coyotes will be the addition of Mike Brown on the fourth line.

The Sabres may be struggling, but they have won their last four meetings with the Sharks, including two games in San Jose. The last Sharks win came on Jan. 23, 2010, a 5-2 victory on home ice.