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Krueger expects to coach Sabres against Islanders after having COVID-19

61-year-old ran morning skate after returning to practice Sunday

by Heather Engel / Independent Correspondent

BUFFALO -- Ralph Krueger said he plans to coach the Buffalo Sabres at home against the New York Islanders on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, MSG-B, NHL.TV).

The 61-year-old ran the morning skate and was back at practice Sunday after testing positive for COVID-19. It was the first time Krueger was on the ice since Feb. 1, Buffalo's last practice before its season was paused. 

"I feel good to go," Krueger said. "Obviously, with the strong support around me it makes it easier where they've done an excellent job. But I felt really good in the skate today and meetings this morning with coaches and interacting with players here and there. I feel ready to go, so hopefully we'll just take it a step at a time and I feel like it's going to be a good night."

Krueger said he'll be joined behind the bench by assistants Mike Bales and Steve Smith, and assistant Don Granato will work from the suite level of KeyBank Center.

The Sabres (4-4-2) haven't played since a 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 31 and had six games postponed. Krueger entered NHL COVID-19 protocol Feb. 4.

"I had moderately severe symptoms," Krueger said Sunday. "I never did end up having a fever, but I did end up with a lot of aches and sleeping and fatigue for more than a week. Definitely time to realize how lethal this COVID is."

Forward Sam Reinhart (undisclosed) will be a game-time decision Monday. Forward Tobias Reider is out of protocol and will be a game-time decision. Defensemen Jake McCabe and Brandon Montour  remain in protocol. 

Rasmus Dahlin returned Sunday after being in protocol as a close contact. The defenseman skated with Colin Miller at practice and is expected to be in the lineup against the Islanders.

"I was negative from the beginning," Dahlin said, "just trying to stay away and keep the things I have to do and get ready for the game tomorrow. That's all I can do."

Dahlin was the second player to exit protocol after forward Taylor Hall practiced Saturday. He said also having Krueger back gave the Sabres an extra boost.

"It's huge," Dahlin said. "He's doing well, and it got us going today and he's going to get us going tomorrow, too, so it's going to be a great day. I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

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