CALGARY, Alberta -- A neat nugget for the Sabres' game Tuesday night in Calgary is that Nicholas Baptiste will be inserted into the lineup to make his NHL debut for the 9 p.m. Eastern contest in the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Baptiste, taken in the third round of the 2013 draft, had 13 goals and 28 points last season while making his pro debut in Rochester. He will play right wing on a line centered by Derek Grant and opposite Matt Moulson, who has scored in each of Buffalo's first two games.
"I'm going to be excited," Baptiste said after today's pregame skate. "The first shift or two I'll be skating real hard but I have to lock in. I know I've paved the way here for myself and I've earned it so I've got to enjoy it a little bit. At the end of the day, it's a business so I have to make sure I play my best to stay up here as long as possible. "
"He's a big kid. He can skate like the wind," coach Dan Bylsma said of the 6-foot-1, 206-pound Baptiste. "You saw him be effective in games in training camp and exhibitions with that speed beating guys, driving wide. That's what he's got to be ready to do tonight."
Baptiste thrived in training camp and exhibition play on a line with Grant and St. Joe's product Cole Schneider, who is currently in Rochester.
"He's a really good skater. He gets loose and finds those holes," Grant said today of Baptiste. "He's got good finish. You see in practice he's got a good shot. He's going to have a lot of energy tonight and I'm excited for him."
"I have to be reliable in my own end but I can use my speed to push the D back, get to the net," Baptiste said. "Those are the things that have made me successful the last couple weeks."
The Sabres gave Baptiste the heads-up early Monday evening he would play in this game, enough time for Baptiste's parents, brother and grandmother to fly in from Ottawa for the game.
"It's a big moment for Nick. It's a big moment for his family," Bylsma said. "Sometimes I feel you might need to spring it on him last second so they don't get too caught up in the emotion and the moment. But it's one we want him to have his family here to experience the game with him."
"It's going to be pretty special," Baptiste said. "Those are the four that have kind of been around through the whole process of getting me here. They've been unbelievable support and I'm so fortunate to have them come all the way here to watch me."
The Sabres will scratch Hudson Fasching and defenseman Casey Nelson. Robin Lehner starts in goal while former Sabre Chad Johnson will get the start for Calgary. Buffalo has lost six straight games here, and the last win was exactly 13 years ago. Mika Noronen pitched a shutout for the Sabres in a 2-0 win over the Flames on Oct. 18, 2003.