NASHVILLE – Rasmus Ristolainen is racking up some extensive frequent flyer miles.
The 19-year-old rookie defenseman was called up on an emergency basis on March 15 and was returned to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League on Monday.
Now, with Tyler Myers out again due to injury, Ristolainen was back on a plane this morning so he can play Thursday night when the Buffalo Sabres take on the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
“It’s been a long day. I woke up early, the plane boarded at 6 a.m., but it’s fun. I’m ready to play tonight,” Ristolainen said after the team’s optional morning skate. “I’m exciting. I don’t have very many NHL games yet and it’s really nice to play here with good guys and battle hard. ”
Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said that Myers is day-to-day and hopes to have him back for the team’s game Saturday night at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Myers was tripped in the offensive zone in the third period on Tuesday in Montreal and slid hard into the goal post, knocking the net off its moorings. He took only three shifts after that play.
Torrey Mitchell will also miss the game due to injury. Rookie forward Johan Larsson was recalled to take his spot in the lineup. Matt Hackett will start in goal. Zenon Konopka will miss his second-straight game with a back injury.
Nolan said Mitchell’s injury could keep him out of the lineup a little longer than Myers’.
Marcus Foligno was back on the ice for the team’s optional skate after taking a maintenance day on Wednesday. He blocked a Brendan Gallagher slap shot from the point on Tuesday.
“It feels good,” Foligno said. “It was just a little bit of bone bruise there and obviously taking a pretty hard shot in the kneepad just felt tough to kind of put pressure on it yesterday, therapy and back at it today, I felt better.”
The Sabres are wrapping up an 11-day, five-game road trip that saw them play in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Montreal. Being the visiting team against Nashville might play into the team’s favor on Thursday.
The road team has won the last five games between the Sabres and the Predators. The home team hasn’t won since the Sabres won 8-4, on Feb. 27, 2008. The home team has only won three of the 16 games in the all-time series.
The Sabres haven’t lost a road game to the Predators since Nov. 29, 2003, having won their last three games in Nashville.
Buffalo has had to deal with both injuries and costly penalties the past few games. The Sabres will look to stay out of the box, especially with key penalty killers like Myers and Mitchell out of the lineup.
“We’re a beat-up team again, new faces again in this locker room. We need a simple road game here, get our confidence going,” defenseman Mike Weber said. “A gritty road win would be awesome. That’s what we need to focus in on here and head back home.”
82 Marcus Foligno – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
88 Cory Conacher – 19 Cody Hodgson – 23 Ville Leino
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 65 Brian Flynn – 27 Matt D’Agostini
32 John Scott – 22 Johan Larsson – 37 Matt Ellis
10 Christian Ehrhoff – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain
20 Henrik Tallinder – 5 Chad Ruhwedel
31 Matt Hackett
50 Nathan Lieuwen