Lawrence Pilut hasn’t played since Jan. 18. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres rookie Lawrence Pilut to return against Blackhawks

BUFFALO – Rejoice, Sabres fans. Rookie defenseman Lawrence Pilut will return tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks after sitting out two straight games as a healthy scratch.

Sabres coach Phil Housley changed his blue line the last two contests, inserting Matt Hunwick and Nathan Beaulieu while Pilut, 23, watched.

While Housley said he liked what the veterans showcased, Pilut, a slick youngster fans have been clamoring to see, will play his first game since Jan. 18.

“I’m probably going to be a little rusty,” Pilut said this morning inside KeyBank Center. “I feel that I’ll be back in it quick if it’s like that. I feel good, I feel mentally fresh.”

Pilut, an AHL All-Star, stayed with the Sabres during their bye week and the NHL All-Star break. Housley paired the Swede beside Marco Scandella this morning.

Housley wants Pilut to “just keep the game simpler.”

“I really like Lawrence’s game,” Housley said. “He moves the puck well, he has great vision, he’s got poise with the puck, especially at the offensive blue line.”

Pilut has compiled one goal and five points in his first 16 NHL outings.

The Sabres will make one other lineup change tonight, inserting winger Jason Pominville, a healthy scratch for Wednesday’s 1-0 loss in Dallas, for Remi Elie.

Update: Elie will replace center Johan Larsson (undisclosed).

Sabres goalie Carter Hutton will start. Cam Ward will oppose him.

Tonight kicks off a seven-game home stand, a splendid opportunity to roar up the standings into a playoff position. The Sabres are 14-6-3 at home this season.

Housley just wants the Sabres to stay in the moment.

“I know there’s a lot of talk we have a lot of games at home, but they’re not going to mean anything if we don’t focus on what’s right in front of us, and that’s the Chicago Blackhawks,” Housley said.

Some other notes:

– Tonight will be Sabres winger Sam Reinhart’s 300th NHL game.

– Hutton is 10-4-2 with a 2.36 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage at home this season.

– Sabres rookie Rasmus Dahlin has recorded six multi-point games this season, more than all but two 18-year-old defensemen in NHL history: Housley and Bobby Orr.

– Chicago superstar Patrick Kane, a South Buffalo native, has 899 career points.

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