SAN JOSE - When we last saw Hudson Fasching with the Buffalo Sabres, he was leaving the ice with a groin injury early during a game in Winnipeg. That was on Oct. 30, a mere six games into the season. Fasching, a first-year pro, had made the team out of training camp.
In the four and a half months since, Fasching's rookie season has been marred by that same injury. What was initially prescribed as a short-term ailment revealed itself to be worse, and as a result he's been limited to just 25 games for Rochester.
Video: Sabres in :90 (3/13/17)
Fasching was back with the Sabres when they took the ice for practice on Monday in San Jose, where they will begin a three-game California road trip on Tuesday night.
"It's been a long process," Fasching said. "It's an injury that took me out for a while and it's my first major injury along my career. Not [only] pro, even through college. It's been hard, mentally you just try to stay with it. But it is what it is and I feel good now. It's made me stronger, for sure."
It was around this time last year when Fasching ended his college career at the University of Minnesota and signed his pro contract with the Sabres. He was advertised as a power forward with scoring ability, and the goal he scored in his NHL debut was an indication of those abilities.
Video: WPG@BUF: Fasching beats Hutchinson for first NHL goal
Between the seven games Fasching played with the Sabres last season and the manner with which he stuck out at training camp in October, it's no surprise that the team would want to see him in the NHL again before long.
Whether it's on Tuesday against the Sharks or not, coach Dan Bylsma said to expect to see Fasching in the lineup at least once during their current road trip.
"Finally getting healthy and having be to in Rochester and get his game, that's been a fairly long process and he's probably still in that process," Bylsma said. "Whether it was yesterday, today or tomorrow, I'd like to see Hudson get up and get in some games."
Video: BYLSMA: After Practice
Fasching called the season so far a learning experience, having gone through his first rehabilitation process in what began as a promising campaign. But he chalks it up as part of being a professional, and the good news is that he's better now.
"Obviously it takes a while to get back but right now I feel good," he said. "I feel like my game is in a good spot. I try to keep progressing forward. It's back to where it needs to be, I just need to keep growing."
Deslauriers glad to provide spark
When the Sabres mounted their comeback in the second period against Columbus on Saturday night, it began with an unexpected line combination taking the ice to start the second period. Evander Kane and Ryan O'Reilly, two regulars on the top line, were joined by Nicolas Deslauriers on the wing.
Bylsma reasoned afterward that he put Deslauriers on the ice to inject some energy into a team that had lacked it through the first 20 minutes. Most of the time, that would entail fighting.
What Bylsma got on this occasion was a feed from Deslauriers, circling behind the net, up to Jake McCabe to set up the game's first goal.
Video: CBJ@BUF: McCabe bangs a one-timer off iron and in
"I think he just said I was going with [O'Reilly] and Kaner," Deslauriers said. "I know my job. I know what I have to bring. Sometimes it's by fighting but in that situation, there was not anybody that I think was going to say yes if I asked him. I think it was just a good forecheck, finish my hits and create space for those two guys.
" … Nobody thought it was going to be like that but it kind of helped us out a little bit."
When asked after the game what launched the comeback, Kane immediately mentioned Deslauriers' name. It's a testament to how popular the forward is among his teammates, even in a trying season that has seen him sit as a healthy scratch at times and go scoreless through his first 34 games prior to Friday.
"When I try to bring something, lately it's been fighting and now, when you get on the board and help the guys do something else like that, it's fun," Deslauriers said. "All of the guys have been supportive. Sometimes I can play nine minutes, I can play four or six. It's just the job that I have is not always in the spotlight, but it's fun to hear that from him specially."
Deslauriers now has assists in two straight games. His road trip, however, didn't get off to quite as strong of a start. He had to be tended to after being caught in the nose by the stick of Cody Franson, who was wearing a cage himself after taking a puck to the mouth in Saturday's game.
"I think he was scared to just be by himself with that scar," Deslauriers joked.
Lines at practice
9 Evander Kane - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 12 Brian Gionta
26 Matt Moulson - 15 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
82 Marcus Foligno - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 56 Justin Bailey
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 63 Tyler Ennis
52 Hudson Fasching
29 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
41 Justin Falk - 47 Zach Bogosian
4 Josh Gorges - 6 Cody Franson
40 Robin Lehner
31 Anders Nilsson