BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Sabres' defense got a helping hand last week with the return of Rasmus Ristolainen. An upper-body injury cost him nine games, but Ristolainen looked just fine in his return. Ristolainen recorded two assists in a win against Edmonton and a pair of shots in a loss to Montreal.

"I get good passes, so I just try to find the net," he said. "It's hard to score if you don't get any shots to the net so I try to get as many shots as I can. If they don't get in, maybe we get a rebound or a tip."

Marco Scandella has been on the other side of Buffalo's top defensive pairing, and he sounded happy to have him back.

"We have good chemistry," he said. "We have to bring it every night, and it leads to our offense, too. We have one goal -- we have to be a big presence back there."

Despite missing nine games, Ristolainen still leads Sabres defensemen with seven assists. The Blue and Gold are still waiting for a defenseman to score a goal; through 24 games, the Sabres are the only NHL team that hasn't gotten a goal from a blueliner.

"Our D are trying to get pucks through," said head coach Phil Housley. "In this league, there's not just the first layer, but you also have a second layer of guys. You have to do things quicker. I'd like to see our D continue to work on trying to find that shot and delivering the puck a lot quicker."

"Earlier in the year, maybe we were struggling with our netfront presence," said Ristolainen. "I feel now that it's been there, we just have to keep shooting, and one day it'll go in for sure."