Sabres Notebook: Ristolainen's shootout skills; Austin could make NHL debut - The Buffalo News
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Sabres Notebook: Ristolainen's shootout skills; Austin could make NHL debut

Yes, Rasmus Ristolainen called his shot in the shootout. He just didn’t remember.

The defenseman scored Buffalo’s slickest shootout goal of the season Friday in Anaheim. He deked left, went right and then reached his left arm around goaltender Jonathan Bernier for the goal.

Soon after, a video from Finland surfaced of him saying in August he’d do that move.

“That’s like a TV show they did back home, and I actually forgot it,” Ristolainen said Sunday. “I saw it yesterday morning, and it’s pretty funny.”

In addition to trying the move back home, Ristolainen has done it a couple of times in practice this year.

“It worked out as planned. I got a couple a texts after that one,” said Ristolainen, who had never before taken part in an NHL shootout. “I’ve been saving it because I haven’t shot yet. That’s my move.”

Ristolainen was the ninth shooter in the 10-round win by the Sabres. They’ll go for their second straight victory Monday night in Detroit.

“We were getting to that point where you knew the D-men were going to start to get involved,” defenseman Josh Gorges said after practice in HarborCenter. “You know with his skill level he’s got the ability to step in and do something great. To pull a move like that? I didn’t see that coming, but I don’t think anybody did. I’m sure that’s why he was able to put that one home. That was impressive.”

There’s a chance it won’t be Ristolainen’s last attempt, though he’s unlikely to pass Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart or Ryan O’Reilly in the rotation.

“We’ve got seven guys that we practice with in shootout team, and he’s on there for a reason,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “Obviously, he’s had success with that move, and today you see him use a different move, a shooting move and score. Maybe he’s climbing up the list from seven to six or five.”

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Once again, the Sabres have a thin blue line. A couple of Rochester players will fix that, which opens the door to an NHL debut.

Buffalo, which practiced with just four defensemen, will call up two blue-liners from the Amerks for Monday’s game. A source said Casey Nelson and Brady Austin will get the call, though nothing was official. The Amerks flew home Sunday after two weekend games in Newfoundland.

Austin, selected in the seventh round of the 2012 NHL Draft, has yet to appear in a Sabres uniform. He has spent the past three seasons in Rochester, recording five goals and 30 points in 199 games. The 23-year-old is 6-foot-4 and 234 pounds.

Nelson started the season in Buffalo and has played nine games. He has four goals and 13 points in 45 games with the Amerks.

The Sabres have been crushed by injuries to Dmitry Kulikov (concussion), Cody Franson (undisclosed), Justin Falk (calf) and Taylor Fedun (foot).

“It doesn’t look like there’s a chance that any of them can play,” Bylsma said. “Day-to-day is probably appropriate for all those guys.”

The Sabres’ injury situation made for some dicey moments in Anaheim. They were down to three defensemen at one point.

“You go from left D to right D to rest, and you came out and went to the left D, then right D and then rest,” Bylsma said. “It was a short time, but we had the rotation going there. The fresh guy goes to the farthest point on the ice, and you move toward the bench to get some rest.”

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The Sabres are making their last visit to Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings will move into a new building next season.

“It’s the rink that I was a fan of growing up,” said Bylsma, a Michigan native. “I thought it was the Taj Mahal of all rinks. Now it’s not the Taj Mahal anymore, but it is a place where I played and dreamed of playing.”

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