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Kane out "weeks" with cracked ribs

Okposo expects to play on Sunday; Kulikov questionable

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Evander Kane was released from the hospital on Thursday night and has been diagnosed with three cracked ribs, an injury he sustained from crashing hard into the boards while chasing down the puck late in the second period against Montreal. 

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said that Kane's injury will take "weeks" to recover from.

"It's not good news," Bylsma said. "You're hoping for a bruise, but it's not. It's cracked ribs and, again, it's weeks depending on the severity and in the oblique area, it's going to be something you deal with even when you come back."

Video: MTL@BUF: Kane goes into boards hard, leaves game

While they've lost Kane, it appears safe to look forward to another injured forward returning to the lineup in Edmonton on Sunday. Kyle Okposo, who has been rehabbing a bruised knee, participated in a full practice and said he expects to make his Sabres debut against the Oilers.

Okposo sustained his injury in practice last Monday when a hard shot caught him in his knee bone. His knee, he said, "was about the size of a beach ball." It's progressed well, but as hard as it was to sit and watch on opening night, Okposo said he'd rather try to play 81 games than re-injury it and play less.

"You have to calm your mind down and just remember that it's a long season," Okposo said. "It's something that I've kind of learned over the years, is that these things can stick with you and affect your game. I didn't want any lingering effects."

Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who also missed the game against Montreal with a lower-body bruise, participated in a full practice as well, but remains uncertain about his availability Sunday evening. 

Eichel, meanwhile, spoke to the media for the first time since sustaining a high-ankle sprain in practice and has preached the importance of patience in recovering from his first serious injury. Bylsma said that he has still made his presence felt in recent days despite not being on the ice.

"He was in much better spirits in the team meeting and still wants to be a part of it, even given the injury and the extent of it," Bylsma said.

Okposo believes that it will be important for him to not try and do too much when he joins a lineup that is currently playing without two top-six forwards in Kane and Eichel. Bylsma said the same for the rest of his team. Rather than trying to replace Eichel's skill or Kane's physical, fast-paced style of play, his wish for his players is that they maximize their efforts within the confines of their own games.

Video: OKPOSO: After Practice

"You can be hard to play against with speed, with attack, with the movement of the puck," Bylsma said. "You can hard to be play against there, and we need more players who can be that way. We don't need to ask Tyler Ennis to be Nic Deslauriers or Marcus Foligno with the physicality, but we can ask Tyler to be harder to play against with his speed and the way he attacks."

The game against Edmonton on Sunday begins at 7 p.m. ET and can be seen live on MSG or heard on WGR 550. It will kick off a three-game road trip through Western Canada, which will be followed by a game in Philadelphia next Tuesday.

The Sabres' next home game is next Thursday against the Minnesota Wild, which is also Hockey Fights Cancer Night.


Filling in on faceoffs

The muscles spasms that shortened Ryan O'Reilly's preseason also hampered his ability to serve as the primary faceoff man for the Sabres on Wednesday, but they did a fine job making up for it. O'Reilly took more draws as the game went on and went 9-for-11, but he was supplemented by a 7-for-11 night from linemate Sam Reinhart and a 9-for-18 night from Derek Grant, who filled in on the penalty kill. 
The Sabres were 40-for-65 on faceoffs overall against the Canadiens, or 61.5 percent. 


No discipline for Shaw

Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw was assessed a game misconduct for slew footing Johan Larsson as time expired on Thursday, but that will be the extent of the discipline he faces. Bylsma said he was unhappy with the decision. 

"It's malicious, it's a slew foot," Bylsma said. "There's three seconds on the clock. They're not engaged, sometimes you have a slew foot where you're engaged with a player and it has happened. He skated a distance to slew foot a player. I was hoping it would be reviewed." 


Friday's practice

23 Sam Reinhart - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
63 Tyler Ennis - 27 Derek Grant - 44 Nicolas Deslauriers
82 Marcus Foligno - 22 Johan Larsson - 12 Brian Gionta
26 Matt Moulson - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 52 Hudson Fasching

4 Josh Gorges - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe - 47 Zach Bogosian  
77 Dmitry Kulikov - 6 Cody Franson
34 Casey Nelson

40 Robin Lehner
31 Anders Nilsson

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