DENVER – The Buffalo Sabres could be without their leading scorer until after the Olympic break.
Left wing Matt Moulson left the team’s game Thursday night in Phoenix with 6:05 to play in the third period after taking a whack with a stick to his upper-body.
At the team hotel in Denver on Friday, Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said that Moulson could be out until the NHL schedule resumes on Feb. 25. Buffalo plays four more games before the Winter Olympic break.
The Sabres are set to play the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday at the Pepsi Center at 9 p.m. EST.
“It doesn’t look like it’s really too, too serious. If he’s a fast mender, you never know,” Nolan said.
The Sabres are not only losing a valuable scorer, but a leader on the team as well.
Moulson is tops on the team in goals (15) and points (33) through 51 games this season. With Christian Ehrhoff out of the lineup due to an illness on Thursday, Moulson served as an alternate captain in his stead.
“He’s really buying into what we’re doing here and he’s leading the team. He wore an ‘A’ on his sweater last night for that reason,” Nolan said. “Right now, it’s going to be a big loss for us, but like every other team, someone has to step up. There will be an opportunity for someone else.”
The team will look to Brian Flynn to fill Moulson’s shoes on a line with Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons. Flynn had been up and down the lineup the past few games, playing with Philip Varone and Marcus Foligno as well as with Zenon Konopka and Matt Ellis.
“He can go from the fourth line up to your top line. He’s very versatile so we could look at the possibility of putting him in there for a game or two,” Nolan said.
Drew Stafford will miss his fourth game in a row Saturday night with an upper-body injury. Ehrhoff might be ready to play against Colroado.
The team did not practice Friday morning, but had a stretching session at the hotel. After a late flight to Denver from Phoenix, Nolan talked with the trainers and medical staff and felt it was best to keep the team off the ice.
“Today was one of those days that if we only had a little more time, I’m quite sure we would’ve practiced. But with the team getting in so late and the games so numerous, rest is a little bit more important right now,” Nolan said. “…It’s a normal day except we didn’t hop on the ice for a half hour.”