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Pyatt moved up to Briere's line

Tim Connolly got hurt, so Taylor Pyatt went from the stands to the ice. Jochen Hecht got hurt, so Pyatt is going from the ice to the top line.

Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff announced Friday that Pyatt is joining center Daniel Briere and right wing J.P. Dumont for tonight's first-place showdown with the Ottawa Senators. It's a meteoric rise for someone who, before Thursday, had been a healthy scratch for four straight games.

"It's unbelievable," Pyatt said after practice Friday. "It's one thing I've learned in this game, it's up and down. Sometimes when you get down and don't think things are going to turn around, something like this happens. It's a great opportunity for myself, and I just have to make the best of it."

Pyatt was inserted into the lineup Thursday against Toronto when doctors recommended Connolly rest his sore medial collateral ligament. Pyatt delivered, killing a late penalty, creating scoring chances and moving steadily up from the fourth line.

"I really think with more ice time you'll see bigger things," Ruff said. "It has been that way when he's been given a larger role, and you've got to give him credit for staying ready. It's not easy being out of the lineup."

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Dumont missed practice Friday because of sinus congestion that's been plaguing him the past few days. Ruff said the winger will play tonight against the Senators.

Also skipping practice was defenseman Toni Lydman, but that's been common since he returned from the Olympics with "various ailments," Ruff said.

"It really hasn't seemed to affect him, so if he keeps going the way he has been, I don't see any reason to get him out there between games," Ruff said.

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Tim Connolly (left medial collateral ligament) and Jochen Hecht (right MCL) will not be in the lineup. Hecht is out at least two weeks. Connolly is scheduled to return Monday against Atlanta, but that could change, Ruff said. Although Connolly practiced fully Wednesday and Thursday and said he escaped damage when he twisted the knee Tuesday, Ruff said the center could miss even more games.

"He's sore. . . . Could he play? I think if it was a do-or-die situation, we may take the chance," Ruff said. "But we need a healthy team weeks from now, not right now."

e-mail: jvogl@buffnews.com

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