BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — All-Star defenseman Rasmus Dahlin will return for the Sabres on Tuesday night after missing one game with an upper-body injury.
Coach Don Granato said Buffalo’s alternate captain and co-leader in points won’t be limited when the Sabres (7-5-0) open a four-game homestand against the Arizona Coyotes (4-6-1) at KeyBank Center.
“Full go,” Granato said. “No concern at all with him.”
The banged-up Buffalo blue line also will have Ilya Lyubushkin in the pairings, Granato said. Lybushkin missed four games with a lower-body injury before returning against for Saturday night’s loss to the Lightning that Dahlin missed. Lyubushkin was held out of Monday’s practice for injury maintenance. The Sabres have been without three of their top six defensemen for the past two weeks, with Mattias Samuelsson (lower body) and Henri Jokiharju (upper body) both on injured reserve.
Dahlin was hurt in Friday night’s loss at Carolina and did not play the following night in Tampa Bay. He participated in Tuesday morning’s game day skate after not practicing Monday.
“After the game, I was kind of feeling a little bit off,” Dahlin said. “When it comes to the head, you’ve got to be careful. So I’m all good now, and I’m ready to go.”
Dahlin said it was a combination of hits in the game against the Hurricanes that caused injury. Dahlin took a gloved uppercut to the head while tangled with Carolina’s Jesperi Kotkaniemi, but remained in the game and led the Sabres with eight shots on goal and three blocked shots.
“It wasn’t the punch I got in my face,” Dahlin said. “It was an accident after. I was hit kind of late. My neck was a little bit off. It was a mix of everything. It wasn’t that situation. I made a stupid play. I shot after the whistle. And you’re not supposed to do that.”
The 22-year-old Dahlin set an NHL record for defenseman by scoring in the first five games of the season, and he leads the Sabres in average ice time (25:54) and blocked shots (25). Dahlin has 15 points (seven goals, eight assists), tied with Tage Thompson for the team lead, and his 18 hits are second on the team behind Lyubushkin (18).
With Dahlin out of the lineup, 19-year-old Owen Power skated a career-high 28:14 against the Lightning and had two assists. Power leads NHL rookie defensemen in average ice time (23:09) and is tied for first with seven points, all from assists.
“He’s awesome,” Dahlin said. “You see how he played in Tampa, it was fun to watch. He’s just got to continue to grow and he’s going to be an exceptional player.”
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