Linus Ullmark will be assessed Wednesday for a lower-body injury sustained during the third period of the Buffalo Sabres' 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators at KeyBank Center on Tuesday.
Ullmark was tended to by trainers after falling awkwardly on his right leg with 9:32 remaining in a 3-2 contest. He was eventually helped off the ice by teammates Brandon Montour and Jeff Skinner.
"The first prognosis is we've got a lower-body situation here that will be looked at deeply tomorrow, so we'll give you more on that," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said.
"Just looking at it, it definitely fell back in an uncomfortable away and it's always painful to watch that kind of situation, so we'll see. We'll work through it with him now."
Video: BUF Recap: Eichel sets new career best in 5-2 loss
The Sabres have leaned heavily on Ullmark, who has taken the reigns as a No. 1 goalie for the first time in his young career. The 26-year-old has started 18 of the team's past 20 contests. His 16 wins this season are a career high.
"He's been a huge part of our team," Sabres captain Jack Eichel said. "You never want to see anybody get hurt, especially somebody who's really kept us afloat here."
"He's been unbelievable, he's been winning games for us," added alternate captain Marcus Johansson. "Hopefully, it's nothing too bad."
Tuesday's game was another example of Ullmark keeping the score close. He had already made 30 saves at the time of his injury, including a series of highlight-reel stops that kept Senators forward Anthony Duclair off the score sheet during a nine-shot outing.
Video: OTT@BUF: Ullmark robs Duclair at the doorstep
Carter Hutton entered the game in relief and stopped all four shots he faced. In addition to Hutton, the Sabres have veteran Andrew Hammond - who has 56 games of NHL experience - and Jonas Johansson in AHL Rochester. Johansson, 24, has a .925 save percentage with the Amerks and was named an AHL All-Star for the first time.
"There's no question that you have to see Linus as a centerpiece of what we've been doing lately," Krueger said. "But again, that's part of the game and we have to deal with it. I think today, more painful is the way we lost this game, what we did or didn't do to get the points we desperately wanted here tonight."
Special teams were the difference in the loss. The Senators went 3-for-4 on the power play, including Mike Reilly's blast from the point that broke a 2-2 tie with 11:17 remaining.
The Sabres had a chance to tie the game on their own late power play but, with Hutton pulled for a 6-on-4 advantage, saw Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki send a clearing attempt off the boards in his own zone that found its way into the empty net. Nikita Zaitsev added a second empty-net goal.
Buffalo finished the night 1-for-4 on the power play, with Sam Reinhart scoring the lone goal to extend his point streak to four games. Jack Eichel also scored his career-high 29th goal of the season.
Video: OTT@BUF: Eichel sets new career high in goals
"Compliment to Ottawa, they used their opportunities," Krueger said. "We took four offensive-zone penalties, unacceptable, and their power play just killed us."
The loss opened a 10-game stretch featuring nine games in KeyBank Center, where the Sabres were 14-5-3 entering the night. They were also coming off a 10-day break between games, while the Senators played Monday against New Jersey.
Krueger said prior to the game that he expected his team to have to weather an early adjustment period. Beyond that, he felt they would be able to use their energy to their advantage. That energy only showed in spurts.
"We had difficulty finding our legs and then for some strange reason, once we found them, we kept going in and out of the game," Krueger said. "We seemed to be in it, and then we fell back, we went it, and we fell back, and it just went that way all the way.
"We never really got a rhythm, or we never felt the Sabres hockey we want to play. So, it's very frustrating. But compliment to Ottawa for the way they played here today. They played hard, they played well, and they used their opportunity."
Entering the night, the Sabres saw the long stretch of home games as an opportunity to make up ground in the playoff race. They sit 10 points out of both the second wild card in the Eastern Conference and third in the Atlantic Division.
Disappointing as the result was - due to the result and Ullmark's injury - they still see that opportunity moving forward.
"If one game throws everything off kilter we don't have much of a foundation," Krueger said. "We feel we do. We feel a group that has truly bought into a process we had an off game coming off the break here.
"Ottawa did a hell of a job here on their back-to-back using the game from yesterday and we should have had more energy in the second half. We didn't have it, but there is full belief in that room of the way we're going here and adversity is something you need to look in the eyes and you need to be strong about. You need to use it, and that's what we'll do here. We got two days to get ready for Montreal and we will be ready."
Skinner was back in the lineup after missing 10 games with an upper-body injury. He finished the night with three shot attempts in 18:33.
The homestand continues against Montreal on Thursday. Coverage on MSG begins at 6:30 p.m., or you can listen to the game on WGR 550. Puck drop is scheduled for 7.