Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Pyatt could have been content just to wear a uniform again after more than two months of wearing a suit on game nights.
"I knew I had to come back and make a statement," he said.
Pyatt has hit the ice skating since recovering from a broken right wrist. He played effectively enough in his return to send Daniel Paille packing, and in his second game back he scored an impressive goal Thursday night to help the Sabres beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-2, in HSBC Arena.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff last weekend suggested he was running out of patience with Pyatt, alluding to the former eighth overall draft pick needing a change of scenery to blossom.
"I knew when I came back I had to make a difference every game," Pyatt said. "There's a lot of depth in this organization. There's going to be guys continuing to come back from injury. There's a lot of games left, a lot of games to be played in March, and it's going to be a tough schedule for us."
Pyatt, skating on the fourth line with Paul Gaustad and Andrew Peters, used his 6-foot-4, 227-pound frame to tie the game with 4:38 left in the first period.
Gaustad skated around the cage for a wraparound that Flyers goalie Robert Esche denied. Pyatt, stationed on the edge of the crease, was unsuccessful on the forehand follow-up. He quickly fished out his own rebound and backhanded the puck over Esche.
"He used his size and his offensive skill there," Ruff said. "He went from forehand to backhand and put that up under the crossbar while controlling the front of the net. . . . His goal was the type of goal you like to see, where he can control the smaller people."
Ruff also lauded Pyatt's play along the walls late in the game.
Pyatt has four goals. His other three came on the same night, four games before he got hurt.
"It feels so good," Pyatt said. "When you're sitting on the side for so long and not in the lineup it's hard to watch. They've been having a great year, and there's such a great atmosphere around here. It's fun being around the rink."
Ruff revealed Dmitri Kalinin's upper-body injury was a partially separated shoulder and said the Russian defenseman likely will be shelved for two weeks. That means Kalinin probably won't be back until after the Olympic break.
Rory Fitzpatrick filled in for the second time in 11 games. He was Jay McKee's right-side partner.
The Sabres returned Paille to the Rochester Americans. The move was forced by the return of Pyatt and the potential need for personnel at other positions due to injuries.
The Sabres could use the roster flexibility. They have only six available defensemen, and with center Tim Connolly out for several more weeks with a sprained left knee, winger Jochen Hecht has been playing out of position.
"With a defenseman going down [with an injury] we can look at another defenseman coming up or possibly a centerman coming up," Ruff said. "We're still evaluating Jochen Hecht playing the middle. If it keeps going well we may just keep him there. If not, we may make another move."
The Flyers were missing some star power. They scratched center Peter Forsberg (groin) and defenseman Kim Johnsson (head).