PITTSBURGH -- Next up from Rochester: Hudson Fasching.
The burly winger got the call Saturday morning and joined the Buffalo Sabres for their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in PPG Paints Arena. Fasching was slotted on the fourth line with Johan Larsson and Zemgus Girgensons.
Fasching entered Saturday as one of four players tied for the Amerks' team lead with six goals. And his 6-foot-3, 204-pound frame was an asset Buffalo coach Phil Housley was hoping to use to create traffic in front of the net, an area the Sabres have sorely lacked in recent games.
"It's pretty much one of the first things I heard," Fasching, 22, said before the game. "I'll definitely be around the net tonight. That's definitely a theme for me and I'm not afraid to get there."
Fasching took the assignment seriously, getting nailed for a goaltender interference penalty at 7:45 of the first but remaining undaunted and bothering Pens goalie Tristan Jarry while he saw time in front on a first-period power play.
Fasching, who had one goal in 17 games with the Sabres over the last two seasons, endured an early dismissal from training camp in September but regained his touch when he was sent to the Amerks.
"It's just been being heavier on pucks, having that extra edge to win battles and win pucks," he said. "It was the kind of thing that was lacking for me in training camp. It wasn't the camp I wanted. I didn't come out with the speed or intensity I wanted to and it had to develop in Rochester."
Fasching said it's a night-and-day atmosphere in Rochester under new coach Chris Taylor than it was last year under Dan Lambert.
"Guys there are happy. We're excited to be there every day," Fasching said. "There's a lot of energy at the rink. It's fun to be there, fun to play like that.
"We're almost playing more loose, more relaxed. He's not trying to overcoach us in my mind. It's helping a lot letting guys play, letting guys play the way they're supposed and guys are responding. It's been very effective so far."
Fasching has shuffled through several linemates in Rochester but said he's been with former No. 1 pick Alex Nylander the last couple of games. Nylander, on the road back after missing more than two months with a lower-body injury, has one goal and three assists in his first seven games.
"He's getting back into it for sure," Fasching said. "He's got so much skill and can create plays most people can't so it's been fun to play with him."
Fasching went into the lineup for embattled winger Matt Moulson, who continues to have no points on the season. Moulson played the last two games, collecting five shots on goal, after being a healthy scratch for the previous six but could not help kick start the Buffalo power play.
The Sabres also made a switch on defense as Josh Gorges returned to the lineup while Victor Antipin sat out as a healthy scratch. Antipin, whose turnover created the Tom Kuhnhackl penalty shot goal Friday night, has no points and no shots on goal in the last three games.
"Victor's game had been really good," Housley said. "I just thought it's been slipping the last couple games."
Kuhnhackl's penalty shot was the first one the Penguins have converted on the road since Nils Ekman beat Henrik Lundqvist at New York's Madison Square Garden on Dec. 7, 2006. After the game, Kuhnhackl said he took Evgeni Malkin's advice to go high glovve to beat Robin Lehner.
“I trusted Geno there,” Kuhnhackl said. “I’m glad I did.”