BUFFALO -- Nino Niederreiter said he needed to "get a little dirtier" upon his return to the lineup last night from being a spectator the previous four games.
He took that mandate from Jack Capuano a bit too much to heart in the first period. Niederreiter, who skated on a line with big hitter Matt Martin and Marty Reasoner as if to reinforce Capuano's desire to see the 19-year-old Niederreiter use his body more, ignored the puck right in front of the Islanders' bench and instead made a beeline for the Sabres' Nathan Gerbe.
The 6-2, 205-pound Niederreiter sent the 5-5, 178-pound Gerbe nearly into the Islanders' bench, prompting a scrum that ended with Martin and Buffalo's Zack Kassian fighting. Gerbe responded with a couple of low jabs with his stick but only Niederreiter got two minutes, for interference.
Reasoner returned after three straight as a healthy scratch, with Micheal Haley taking a seat. Capuano wanted to keep David Ullstrom on the wing, so Reasoner, a center, went back in with Jay Pandolfo (broken foot) sidelined for 4-6 weeks.
Capuano hinted that the Islanders may call up a defenseman from Bridgeport for this weekend's trip to Chicago and Dallas.
Strome, Kichton picked
Center Ryan Strome, the 2011 first-round pick, and defenseman Brenden Kichton, the fifth-round pick this year, were among 24 junior players invited to Canada's World Junior Championship camp. The tournament begins Dec. 26 in Calgary and Edmonton.
Kichton impressed with his play in the Isles' rookie camp in September. He has three goals and 17 assists in 21 games with Spokane in the Western League.