The last 48 hours for the Buffalo Sabres have been absolutely deflating. Jack Eichel’s ankle injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. Then, after being prepared to move on without him, Evander Kane went crashing into the boards during Thursday’s night contest and did not return.
The Sabres struggled to find the back of the net as the Montreal Canadiens took the season opener at the KeyBank Center by a score of 4-1.
The biggest concern for Buffalo fans isn’t just the loss, but the status of Kane. At the tail end of the second period, Kane lost his footing and went sliding hard into the boards.
Kane struggled getting off the ice and reports stated that after Kane made it to the locker room, he was taken to a hospital for further evaluation and precautionary measures.
It’s a big blow for the Sabres as it puts them down two top-six forwards.
“You never want to see a teammate get injured,” Matt Moulson said. “He had a full set of steam going in there.”
Trailing by two goals after 40 minutes of play, the Sabres came out quick and capitalized on a penalty taken by Shea Weber, who the Canadiens traded for P.K. Subban over the summer. Sam Reinhart found Moulson all alone in front of the net and No. 26 buried a shot for the Sabres’ first goal of the season.
It turned out to be the only goal of the game for Buffalo, but after a rough campaign last year, Moulson got off to a good start in this one.
“You want to win games, whatever you can do to help win,” Moulson said. “It was a great play by Sam, he’s an unbelievable player.”
Despite only one goal on 31 shots, Reinhart was happy with the team’s offense.
“I thought that there were a lot of pucks that could’ve squeezed through,” Reinhart said. “I like the chances we created.”
Al Montoya got the start in goal for Montreal as Carey Price was out with the flu. Montoya has had strong career numbers against Buffalo and he added to them as the Canadiens beat the Sabres for the third consecutive time.
Montreal received points from 10 different players, including a pair of goals from Brendan Gallagher. His goal in the 3rd period put the Canadiens up by two goals and quieted the crowd. Torrey Mitchell and Andrew Shaw also tallied a goal apiece.
Dan Bylsma elected to challenge Shaw’s goal for goaltender’s interference, but the call was upheld, giving the Canadiens a three-goal lead with just under nine minutes to go.
Robin Lehner allowed four goals on 24 shots, but also came up with some big stops throughout the game.
As time expired, a scrum ensued and Shaw was given a match penalty as he slew-footed Johan Larsson.
Prior to the game, the Sabres extended general manager Tim Murray’s contract. Murray commented on it and was pleased with the deal and excited to move forward. However, he also confirmed that Eichel will likely miss 6-8 weeks with the ankle injury.
It’s been a forgettable couple of days for the Sabres as they prepare to go on a four game road trip, three of which are on the west coast.
“Injuries are part of our game. No excuse for how we need to play, how we can play. Need to fight through it.” – Dan Bylsma
The Sabres will face the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday. Connor McDavid scored a pair of goals in his season debut. That game is scheduled for 7 p.m and will air on MSG.