ST. PAUL, Minn. – After approximately 10 hours in the air, Brayden McNabb and Johan Larsson were on the ice.
The two players, recalled from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, joined the Buffalo Sabres for practice Wednesday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center after flying back from Switzerland.
The Amerks have been competing in the Spengler Cup exhibition tournament overseas, but McNabb and Larsson left early to serve as reinforcements for the Sabres.
Buffalo plays the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.
They took part in a practice in which Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan skated the team pretty hard and focused on net-front presence.
“I was happy that we were actually able to come and skate and get the cobwebs out,” McNabb said. “I’m excited to be back and I’m looking forward to it.”
Rochester went 0-3-0 in the Spengler Cup, but Larsson said it was good for the team to be a part of the tournament. He recorded one assist in those three games.
“It’s different hockey. It’s a bigger ice surface. It took a little time for us to adjust to that," Larsson said. "I think the last two games we played pretty good, but we didn’t win. I think all the boys were really happy to go there and it was a good experience.”
McNabb and Larsson took a two-hour flight from Zurich to Amsterdam. McNabb said it was then another eight hours from Amsterdam to Minnesota.
Larsson will be in the lineup against the Wild as Ville Leino has a lower-body injury that will cause him to miss the game. He took a big hit from Thomas Wilson of the Captials on Sunday and missed practice on Monday. He suited Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets but left the game in the first period. He's also been dealing with the flu.
“Ville tried it last night and just wasn’t good enough to go. We’ll give him a little bit more time. Hopefully he’ll get ready soon,” Nolan said. “I think right now it’s day-to-day. He took a pretty big bang there a couple days ago, but it’s getting better and better.”
For now, McNabb will serve as the seventh defenseman. Tyler Myers took a maintenance day and did not skate with the team Wednesday. The Sabres are already without Henrik Tallinder, who will miss at least a week with an injury.
Nolan said that Myers is “semi-questionable” for the game Thursday, but thinks that Myers should be ready to go.
To make room for the two players, the Sabres placed Cody Hodgson on injured reserve. Hodgson has missed four games with an upper-body injury.
26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
9 Steve Ott – 65 Brian Flynn – 21 Drew Stafford
32 John Scott – 37 Matt Ellis – 27 Matt D’Agostini
82 Marcus Foligno – 22 Johan Larsson – 17 Linus Omark
Defensemen at practice (no pairings): 3 Mark Pysyk, 4 Jamie McBain, 6 Mike Weber, 10 Christian Ehrhoff, 44 Brayden McNabb, 52 Alexander Sulzer
30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth