BOSTON -- Dan Catenacci has played 180 games for the Rochester Amerks the last three years without a sniff of the NHL. For being drafted by the Sabres in the third round of the 2011 draft, that's being a good soldier. The payoff comes tonight in TD Garden as the 22-year-old will make his NHL debut for Buffalo against the Boston Bruins.
"You've got to always have hope, right? You have to keep working hard," Catenacci said after the team's pregame skate here. "I felt last year I took a lot of strides working towards a callup. This year I started off a little slow but I've picked it up as of late."
Catenacci had career highs of 15 goals and 29 points last year in Rochester. He has seven goals and nine assists in 36 games this year but has been hot of late (nine points in his last 10 games) and impressed Dan Bylsma with his tenacity when the Buffalo coach watched the Amerks over the All-Star break.
" You earn the opportunity to come up and play," Bylsma said. "To me, there's no question. Me watching him last week and the reports" from Rochester coach Randy Cunneyworth and staff "is Dan has been one of the best, if not the best, at his game the last 10 or so games and earned the right to come up here. That's what it needs to be."
"When I was drafted I was more of an offensive player," said Catenaaci, who had back-to-back 30-goal seasons for Owen Sound in the OHL. "Since then, I've really worked on faceoffs and my D-side of the game. Now I see myself as a two-way player. Down in 'Roch', I'm playing penalty kill, power play and it's a two-way game. I want to be versatile and a complete player."
Catenacci will take a spot on the fourth line with Nicolas Deslauriers and David Legwand. Said Bylsma: "On a line with Deslauriers, you're going to see two dogs chomping at the bit on the outside."
Catenacci is here because Marcus Foligno (lower body) was injured late in Thursday's shootout loss to the Bruins. Matt Moulson will be moved up to play in Foligno's slot with Jack Eichel and Zemgus Girgensons.
The Sabres are 1-1-1 against the Bruins and this is the final meeting. It's the second of Buffalo's two back-to-backs this season; the Sabres lost both meetings with Washington on Dec. 28 and 30.
"It reminds me of college," Bylsma said. "You feel like you're playing a playoff series in some aspects. I like the animosity it brings in the game. ... You don't like looking at the same players too often."
Foligno is the forward scratch while Jake McCabe and Carlo Colaiacovo will sit on defense. Mike Weber comes back into the lineup.
"I don't think we have a sore spot in the six that played but Mike Weber is going to get back in there tonight," Bylsma said of the Weber, who carries a team-best rating of plus-4. "This is a team he's played well against. Last game when you go on the penalty kill in the third period and overtime, you're missing Mike Weber on the ice for those. I thought we played with a lot of grit and physicality last game but there's some guys over there he needs to pay attention to."
The Sabres are gunning for a third straight win in Boston for the first time since Oct. 20, 2005-March 4, 2006. They have points in a franchise-record seven straight games against divisional opponents, and a win tonight would give them five straight divisional road wins for the first time since 2008.
The goaltending matchup will see Robin Lehner (2-3, 2.22/.938) get back in the net for Buffalo and Tuukka Rask (18-15-5, 2.51/.916) keeping his spot in the crease for Boston.
The Sabres lines this morning were: McGinn-O'Reilly-Reinhart, Moulson-Eichel-Girgensons, Kane-Larsson-Gionta, Catenacci-Legwand-Deslauriers. The defense pairs were Gorges-Ristolainen, Bogosian-Pysyk and Weber-Franson.