For the second time in as many days, Zach Bogosian found himself helping a teammate off the ice. On Wednesday, it was Jack Eichel, who sustained a high-ankle sprain in practice. This time, it was Evander Kane during the Sabres' 4-1 loss to open the season against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.
Kane was racing Alexei Emelin to the puck late in the second period when he was tripped up and crashed hard into the boards, leading with his left shoulder. Kane remained on the ice as he was tended to by trainers, and was hunched over as he skated off the ice with the help of teammates Bogosian and Ryan O'Reilly.
He was taken to the hospital for further evaluation.
"I didn't really see much of it, obviously I just jumped over the boards," Bogosian said. "It's never a good thing when you see one of your teammates on the ice like that."
Kane's is the latest in a series of injuries that have hampered the Sabres early on. Summer acquisitions Kyle Okposo (bruised knee) and Dmitry Kulikov (lower-body bruise) both missed the game on Thursday due to injury, and Ryan O'Reilly (muscle spasms) played after missing the last week of the preseason.
Video: MTL@BUF: Kane goes into boards hard, leaves game
"You shake your head, snake bitten a little bit,. It's kind of come in droves," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "But it's part of our game and part of playing. You know you're gonna have injuries, you expect to have them throughout your lineup. Unfortunately, you have a rash of them, but that's no excuse for how we play, for how we need to play, and we need to keep fighting through it."
Aside from the injury, the result of the game was far from how the Sabres had hoped to open their season. Perhaps it was early-season jitters, Bylsma said, or maybe it was over-excitement, but they didn't register a shot on goal until 7:45 had elapsed in the first period and trailed 8-1 in that category when Brendan Gallagher opened the scoring for Montreal less than a minute later.
Things settled down late in the period, beginning with a strong forechecking shift from Marcus Foligno and Johan Larsson, and the Sabres actually finished the game with a 31-24 advantage in shots. But for all their opportunities, they scored only once, a power-play goal from Matt Moulson 35 seconds into the third period.
Gallagher responded to Moulson's goal with his second of the game, giving him 10 goals in 17 career games against the Sabres and giving Montreal a 3-1 lead at the time. Torrey Mitchell and Andrew Shaw also scored goals for the Canadiens.
Robin Lehner made 20 saves in his first start of the season. He kept the Sabres in the game at times, like his sprawling pad save on Alex Galchenyuk in the second period, and there was little he could do with the goals he did allow. He was screened on the first, the second came from a loose puck in front of the net, the third was that tip-in from Gallagher, and the fourth a put-back.
His counterpart, Al Montoya, made 30 saves while substituting for Carey Price, who did not make the trip due to illness.
"It's unfortunate," Lehner said. "I think they came out good, we stepped up and played a decent hockey game but they got some good bounces. We have a few things to work on but all in all, we've just got to keep building on it."
Moulson nets first goal
After generating four shots on their first two power-play opportunities, the Sabres finally broke through on the third. Sam Reinhart caught the puck behind the net and made a good pass to Moulson out in front. Moulson drove it home for the first goal of season.
Video: MTL@BUF: Moulson snaps in Reinhart's feed for PPG
The two nearly connected for a similar play during the Sabres' next power-play opportunity later in the period. Having had little time to practice as a complete unit during the preseason due to injuries and absences to the World Cup of Hockey, Buffalo went 1-for-5 on the power play with nine shots.
"He's an unbelievable player and he's going to make good plays," Moulson said of Reinhart. "He's a very, very smart player so you've got to be ready when he has it."
It was a promising start for Moulson, who's coming off of a season in which goals were hard to come by. He scored only 21 points (8+13) last season after scoring 40 or more in the previous six. But dating back to last season, Moulson now has a point in each of his last three games (2+1) and four goals in his last seven contests.
"I told him he was going to get two tonight," Bylsma said. "It's certainly big for his confidence and a power-play goal. I thought, at that point in time, we were coming back in that game."
Shaw was assessed a game misconduct for slew-footing Larsson as time expired. Larsson fell backward and hit his head on the ice, but appeared to be OK after the game according to Bylsma.
The Sabres will have a couple of practice days to regroup before they hit the road for three games in Western Canada, beginning in Edmonton on Sunday evening. The game between the Sabres and Oilers begins at 7 p.m. and can be seen live on MSG or heard on WGR 550.