Alexander Nylander had forced his way into the conversation to make the Sabres' roster out of training camp in September, opening eyes with his work ethic and attention to detail. It was a far cry from a year prior, when he missed the entirety of the preseason due to an injury.
The third-year forward was among the final roster cuts on Oct. 1, yielding the last forward spot to Tage Thompson. He went back to Rochester with his eyes set on earning another chance.
"I wanted to be here, but I just tried to take it and learn as much as I could down there, being more experienced … to be as ready as possible when I get called back up," Nylander said.
Video: Sabres Now: Eichel Suspended and Nylander Recalled
Nylander earned his opportunity on Sunday, when he was recalled for the first time this season after scoring goals in four straight games with the Amerks. He joined the team for practice on Monday, skating on the right side of a line with Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues.
Sabres coach Phil Housley said he felt Nylander had a "terrific" camp, which he continued to build on throughout the regular season for the first-place Amerks. Through 49 games, he's set career-high totals in goals (12) and points (31).
Nylander credited his four-game goal streak - which began on his 21st birthday - to an increased willingness to shoot the puck. He took three or more shots in three of his last four games with Rochester.
"I'm getting more into scoring areas, shooting more pucks," he said. "I know I have a good shot, so I've just got to keep shooting, making plays out there and playing my game."
All four of Nylander's recent goals were worthy of his "snipe show" Twitter handle, coming from the high slot or above the right circle. Take a look:
"I'd like to see the exact same things that got him an opportunity to come up and play for us," Housley said. "Just talking to [general manager] Jason [Botterill] and [Amerks coach] Chris Taylor, he's playing very well right now.
"He's scoring, he's shooting the puck a lot more and we want him to attack the game with that same focus that he's had when he's been in Rochester."
The Sabres have 14 games remaining, and it appears Nylander will have every opportunity to show he belongs. In addition to skating on a line with Rodrigues, he practiced on a power-play unit with Jeff Skinner, Casey Mittelstadt, Kyle Okposo and Brandon Montour.
"I just want to show that I can be here," he said. "I know I'm ready for this. Like I said, I'm going to take this opportunity that I get and do the best I can."
Eichel talks suspension
Video: Eichel addresses suspension
Following a telephone hearing on Sunday, the NHL Department of Player Safety suspended Jack Eichel two games for an illegal check to the head of Colorado Avalanche Carl Soderberg on Saturday. The league explained its ruling in the video below.
The Sabres captain disagreed with the call when addressing the media after practice.
"It's a league decision. Obviously we have to stand by it, but I don't agree with it," Eichel said. "Obviously, if you look at the hit and you look at their rule book, I just didn't think it matched up. That's not an illegal hit. I don't move myself to lower it into him.
"If you watch the hit, he actually is at fault for dropping his head down there. I mean, it's a 50-50 puck that I'm trying to make a hockey play on. You see me, I have my eyes on the puck the whole time and then I had to make a play on the puck after. It's kind of frustrating.
"If they're going to have a rule about headshots, it has to be pretty black and white. I mean, if all headshots are suspendable, then suspend all headshots. It's tough to see them picking and choosing what they feel is suspendable. It's a decision you have to live with."
Rule 48 in the NHL rulebook reads as follows:
Housley said he disagreed with the league's ruling as well.
"I don't agree with the decision, but we have to live with it," he said.
Eichel will miss Buffalo's home games against Dallas on Tuesday and Pittsburgh on Thursday. It's the first suspension of his career.
Lines at practice
43 Conor Sheary - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 92 Alex Nylander
53 Jeff Skinner - 37 Casey Mittelstadt - 29 Jason Pominville
72 Tage Thompson - 17 Vladimir Sobotka - 23 Sam Reinhart
20 Scott Wilson - 22 Johan Larsson - 21 Kyle Okposo
48 Matt Hunwick - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
26 Rasmus Dahlin - 4 Zach Bogosian
6 Marco Scandella - 62 Brandon Montour
28 Zemgus Girgensons* - 8 Casey Nelson
40 Carter Hutton
35 Linus Ullmark
*Extra forward skating on defense