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Sabres Notebook: Seamless transition for Baptiste in latest recall

Wake up. Learn you've been called up. Get in your car. Drive to Buffalo. Notch your first multi-point NHL game.

Welcome to Nick Baptiste's Saturday.

The forward got the call around 9 a.m. to head to KeyBank Center as Sam Reinhart came down with the flu and couldn't play in the afternoon game against the St. Louis Blues.

And Baptiste made a seamless transition to the Sabres lineup, playing in his first NHL game since Nov. 17.

Baptiste scored his third NHL goal and added an assist as the Sabres defeated the St. Louis Blues. He played on a line with Jack Eichel and Evander Kane with Eichel setting up Baptiste for a perfect goal at 9:34 of the first period.

In the second period, he helped set up Kane's 20th goal, notching his first NHL assist.

"Obviously they produce points," Baptiste said of playing with Eichel and Kane. "I feel like I could bring speed and open up space for those guys and was fortunate enough to get to the net tonight and score.

"Jack’s good with the puck and you’ve got to get open for him. On that play when we scored, he cut to the middle and I was able to find a hole. He put the puck on my tape and it was just a good play."

Using speed to score goals has been the formula for his success. Baptiste's 19 goals were tied for eighth best in the American Hockey League and he has 30 points in 43 games for the Rochester Americans this season.

This was the third recall for Baptiste, who made his NHL debut on Oct. 18 and scored his first NHL goal the next game, Oct. 20 in Vancouver.

He had a 10-game stint with Sabres from Oct. 30 to Nov. 17 before returning to the Amerks. But the early call-up did wonders for his confidence and put him in the right frame of mind for his second professional season.

"It was a big confidence boost, coming out of camp and being called up right away," Baptiste said. "It was nice for me but that’s something a lot of players go through and the goal is to get up here and not have to go back down. To play well enough where they keep you up here."

There's been plenty of action on the I-90 shuttle this season. William Carrier was the first Amerks forward to earn his keep in Buffalo until a knee injury put him on the injured reserve Feb. 4.

Justin Bailey played his ninth straight game with the Sabres and Evan Rodrigues his fifth with Baptiste joining the party Saturday.

"We’re young guys. Just 21 years old," Baptiste said. "This is the process for a lot of guys – going up and down and you handle it. You’ve got to go down there and play with confidence and work your way back up.

"We’re all great friends. Me, Evan and Justin are really, really close. We help each other and talk a lot when Justin’s up or I’m up or Evan. You have those conversations where you help each other out. You work hard for your own game but stay positive for the other guy and help them stay up as well."

More importantly for the Sabres organization, it shows the type of development they're looking for in their younger players in Rochester.

"I think the coaches down there have done a great job of getting these guys ready to play and be prepared," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "You can see that with almost every call-up that we’ve had. They’ve been prepared, they’ve been ready and they’ve stepped in pretty big spots and done pretty well from Will Carrier to Evan Rodrigues to Justin Bailey and now Nick gets his opportunity and steps right in and almost looks like he fits perfectly there."


With 1:12 remaining in the third period and the Sabres clinging to their 3-2 lead, Robin Lehner was whistled for a penalty.

The Buffalo goaltender was called for tripping St. Louis forward Alexander Steen. Only problem was that Steen skated through the crease and into Lehner, which is why he tripped.

"That's my house and he came into me, I didn't go into him," Lehner said. "So that's a bad call."


Rasmus Ristolainen recorded his 100th NHL point when he picked up the primary assist on Ryan O'Reilly's power play goal late in the second period.

The defenseman has 23 career goals and 77 assists.

With his 100th point coming in his 253rd game, Ristolainen was the seventh fastest defenseman to reach 100 points with the Sabres according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Ristolainen, at 22 years, 114 days old, is the third youngest Sabres defenseman to reach 100 points. Only Phil Housley (19 years, 273 days) and Tyler Myers (22 years, 16 days) were younger.

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