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Dahlin diagnosed with concussion following loss in Tampa

Special teams is difference maker in 5-2 loss

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

TAMPA - Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin sustained a concussion during the second period of a 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Monday. 

The injury occurred with the Sabres on a power play trailing 3-2. Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak delivered an elbow hit to Dahlin's head, forcing him to drop down to the ice. He was tended to on the bench before eventually exiting for the dressing room. 

Officials did not call a penalty on the play. 

"We'll let the league deal with the judgement of what happened," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said afterward. "Right now, we're just worried about Rasmus and getting him healthy and hoping that it's not a long-term injury."

"I haven't seen him since, but he was cut open pretty good," said forward Jimmy Vesey. "I thought it was unfortunate there wasn't a call."

Video: POSTGAME: Krueger

Special teams proved to be the difference in the game for the Sabres, who took a 2-1 lead in the second period on goals from Sam Reinhart and Vesey. Mikhail Sergachev tied the game with a power-play goal later in the period, then Yanni Gourde scored to make it 3-2 just 2:26 later. 

The Sabres were scoreless on three power plays in that second period, the first of which could have put them up 3-1. They got another chance when Vesey drew a penalty late in a Tampa Bay power play during the third period, setting up seven seconds of 4-on-4 play before they were awarded the extra man. 

Just as the Sabres were beginning that power play, Cedric Paquette scored on a shorthanded breakaway to make it 4-2. Ondrej Palat added another shorthanded goal 49 seconds later.

"There was an opportunity, especially on that first power play, to go up 3-1 and I thought we had three, four grade-A scoring chances there, had the shot clock where we wanted it, had our game going, and couldn't put it away at that point," Krueger said.  

"… You can speak about shorthanded goals, but the first one wasn't really. It was a 4-on-4 goal where we just miss our check and let them have an easy goal. But more disappointing is actually that we didn't take the game under our control when we had the opportunity. Again, lots of good things 5-on-5 here today that we're going to build on, but we're not happy with the storyline, four sure."

Video: BUF Recap: Reinhart, Vesey score in 5-2 loss

The Sabres had outshot the Lightning 27-14 in the first two periods. Even-strength scoring chances were 14-13 in their favor according to 

The Lightning started the third on a power play after Johan Larsson was called for holding to end the second, then went on to outshoot the Sabres 15-3 over the final 20 minutes.

"I think we've just got to narrow our focus," defenseman Zach Bogosian said. "Maybe guys see that Ras doesn't get the call there, and maybe you get a little frustrated. They start on the power play in the third period, it lets their skill guys get touches, get back into the game right away. That was part of it. 

"But again, we can't be giving up breakaways and stuff like that. We have to make smart reads, and unfortunately that's the way it went tonight."

The loss concludes a three-game road trip that produced mixed results. The Sabres were pleased with most aspects of their performance but came up short in Boston, parlayed those positives into a victory in Florida, then found themselves in a one-goal game in the third period against Tampa Bay. 

They return home to host Calgary on Wednesday, then play a home-and-home set with Toronto on Friday and Saturday. 

"I think we had a couple of strong games here in Florida as far as the 5-on-5 game's concerned," Krueger said. "Our specialty teams are the difference maker again here tonight in Tampa Bay. We have to go back to the drawing board quickly, the games come fast and furious, but I want to underline that these guys are trying and they're fighting hard to play the game that we're asking them to play.

"We've just got to get better at managing the scores, managing the results, and finding our opportunities to kill games like we should have today in the second period."


Vesey nets his first

Vesey celebrated emphatically upon beating Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy on a breakaway to make it 2-1 early in the second period. The goal was his first as a member of the Sabres despite entering the game with 30 scoring chances at 5-on-5, good for fifth on the team (according to 

The play began at the Tampa Bay blue line, where Vesey pounced on an attempted pass by Sergachev to free himself for the breakaway: 

Video: BUF@TBL: Vesey converts on breakaway for first goal

"When teams line up like that, everyone in the building I think knows the one-timer's coming," Vesey said. "I just tried to get a good jump and I thought I was there. I didn't think there was any way he was going to pass it, and he passed it. So, I was able to just pounce on it and I thought it was a big goal at the time and definitely a good feeling for me."


Sabres Metrics

•   Jack Eichel's assist on Reinhart's first-period goal gives him 30 points in 24 games this season, making him the fastest Sabre to reach the 30-point mark since Thomas Vanek in 2012-13. 

•   Reinhart continued his hot streak against the Lightning, posting his fourth goal in three matchups this season. He has 11 points (9+2) in his last 10 games against the Lightning. 


Up next

The Sabres return home to host the Calgary Flames on Wednesday. The first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a commemorative oven mitt presented by NHL Network.

Can't make it downtown? Coverage on MSG begins at 6:30 p.m., or you can listen to the game on WGR 550. The puck drops at 7. 

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