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Pilut to make NHL debut tonight against Panthers

Defenseman in lineup for McCabe as Sabres look to begin new winning streak

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

SUNRISE, Florida - Lawrence Pilut has made a solid impression early on within the Buffalo Sabres organization. 

Coming over from Sweden as the Defenseman of the Year in the Swedish Hockey League, the 22-year-old blue liner has quickly put up points in his first AHL season. In 16 games, he has three goals and 22 points, which is tied for fifth in the league. 

Now, he'll have the chance to kick off his NHL career on the right foot when he makes his debut with Buffalo tonight. 

"It's going to be fun. It's a dream come true tonight to get on the ice and play my first game. I'm ready for it," he said.

Video: Americans Made: Lawrence Pilut

The Sabres take on the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center at 7 p.m. The GMC Game Night pregame show on MSG starts at 6:30. 

Pilut will take the place of Jake McCabe in the lineup, who is day-to-day with an injury sustained during last night's 5-4 loss to Tampa. 

Video: PREGAME: Housley

Pilut was called up for the first time late last week when the Sabres D corps was hit with some injuries. He was recalled again on Tuesday and has taken pregame warmups in every game he's been a healthy scratch for. He'll finally get his shot tonight.

"He's been around the guys now and he seems to get more comfortable each day," coach Phil Housley said. "I know we haven't had a lot of quality practice time with him because of our schedule, but he's done a terrific job. He's earned a spot or earned the right to play tonight."

Patrik Berglund was activated from injured reserve this afternoon and will return to the lineup tonight. He's in for left wing Remi Elie. Conor Sheary and Marco Scandella have each missed the past two games and have been added to the injured reserve list. Housley said that Sheary skated today on his own. Defenseman Matt Tennyson has also been recalled.

Linus Ullmark will start in goal. He's 5-0-1 on the season and 1-1-0 with a 3.02 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage in his career against the Panthers. 

Video: Game Preview: BUF at FLA

The Sabres are coming off that loss to Tampa that snapped their franchise-record tying 10-game winning streak. Housley thinks the quick turnaround will be beneficial to his club. 

"I think it's great. We can get right back into action," he said. "Obviously, he played a very good hockey team last night that was ready and they showed why they're one of the top teams in the East. But at the same point, we had an opportunity to win a hockey game. We had a one-goal lead in the third period.

"Obviously, I think we took too many penalties against a good power play and eventually, it cracked and got them back in the game. What we can control tonight is how we get ready and prepare for this game." 

He's also expecting a tough test from the Panthers.

"They're going to be hungry," Housley said. "Expect their best game and so we're going to have to be prepared for that."

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