WINNIPEG - Lawrence Pilut will be in the lineup when the Buffalo Sabres conclude their four-game road trip against the Winnipeg Jets tonight at Bell MTS Place.
Pilut will step in for Colin Miller, who will be scratched on defense. Carter Hutton - owner of a .973 save percentage in his last five appearances against Winnipeg - will start in net.
Pilut last played for Buffalo during a 3-2 loss to Anaheim on Feb. 9. He was assigned to Rochester five days later and appeared in six games with the Amerks before rejoining the Sabres on Feb. 27.
"[Pilut is] coming back more focused on the individual skillset that he needs to bring into our group here today, especially his game away from the puck defensively," Krueger said. "We find him extremely strong in being able to read the game and his first pass and initiating our offense is something we'd like to see from him here today."
Video: PREGAME: Krueger
Pilut has appeared in 11 games with the Sabres this season, averaging 16:08 of ice time. He has 23 points (6+17) in 37 games with the Amerks.
The Sabres will keep the same forward lines from their game in Arizona on Saturday, with Victor Olofsson ready to play despite leaving that game in the second period.
Krueger said earlier in the week that while the lines centered by Jack Eichel and Johan Larsson had established clear identities, the team was searching for consistency in its other two trios. He felt a step toward that in the last two games as newcomers Dominik Kahun and Wayne Simmonds helped create goals for Marcus Johansson and Jeff Skinner, respectively.
"There is some synergy evolving in the lines, so we want to leave them together," Krueger said.
Here's how the Sabres lined up at practice yesterday.
68 Victor Olofsson - 9 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 22 Johan Larsson - 21 Kyle Okposo
53 Jeff Skinner - 27 Curtis Lazar - 17 Wayne Simmonds
13 Jimmy Vesey - 90 Marcus Johansson - 95 Dominik Kahun
24 Lawrence Pilut - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
26 Rasmus Dahlin - 62 Brandon Montour
19 Jake McCabe - 10 Henri Jokiharju
Scouting the Jets
The Jets have dropped two of three games since their 2-1 loss in Buffalo on Feb. 23. They are in a three-way tie with Nashville and Arizona for the second wild card in the Western Conference.
Whereas the Sabres have come out on the wrong end of third-period ties in Colorado and Las Vegas on their current road trip, they pulled ahead in the final period of that last meeting against the Jets. Krueger lauded his team's compete in that game and said it will be crucial to repeat that intensity tonight.
"You really need to compete," he said. "They're fighting hard here right now to maintain their position in the race and they're a really, really connected team as far as they play in both directions. Watching their tapes, they were the much better team the other night and didn't come away with the win.
"I think we need to respect them and play our best game here tonight. It's an excellent atmosphere in this building and really expecting a playoff like game, for sure. We need to raise our game to match that competitiveness that they'll bring."
The Jets should benefit from the presence of forward Patrik Laine, who will return from a one-game absence stemming from a lower-body injury. Laine ranks third on the Jets with 26 goals, trailing Kyle Connor (33) and Mark Scheifele (28).
Connor Hellebuyck will start in net.
Coverage on MSG begins at 7:30 p.m. You can also listen to the game on WGR 550 with puck drop scheduled for 8.