By Dave Ricci
As soon as Evander Kane crashed into the boards you could almost hear every Sabres fan in unison ask “what else can go wrong?”
Brendan Gallagher scored twice as Montreal beat Buffalo 4-1 in the NHL opener for both clubs that was played at the KeyBank Center on Thursday night.
But the loss was only a fraction of the Sabres worries as star winger Evander Kane had to be helped off the ice after crashing into the boards with just 11.3 seconds left in the second period.Kane Injury Video courtesy of Yahoo/MSG
Kane was driving into the Montreal zone, attempting to get around Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin when he lost his balance, fell to the ice and slid hard into the boards behind the Montreal net. Kane’s entire left side of his body struck into the boards so it was difficult to tell exactly which part of his body absorbed the brunt of the hit, but it appeared as if his left shoulder hit the hardest. The same shoulder that has required surgery to repair.
Kane was down for several minutes in obvious pain. He was helped back to the Sabres bench by teammates Ryan O’Reilly and Zach Bogosian, then taken to the Sabres locker room.
“Any time you see one of your teammates go down like that it’s never a good thing,” Bogosian said. “The trainers looked after him, we’re just there to help him (to the bench). That being said we need other guys to step up when things like that happen guys are going to be slotted into different roles and you’ve just got to be professional about it and go about our business. It’s definitely not a good thing when you see someone go into the boards like that.”
Kane did not return and was taken to hospital for tests as a precautionary measure. Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma didn’t have much information to share when he stepped to the podium for his post-game press conference. But he did say that it seems that Kane may have struck has back against the boards, and that he was being checked out for possible internal injuries.
“Obviously he went into the boards hard,” Bylsma said. “I saw the discomfort, the pain he was in, but there’s really not more that I can tell you that he’s getting checked out at the hospital.”
The brightest spot of the night for the Sabres came 35 seconds into the third when Matt Moulson scored his first goal of the season. Moulson, who battled through his most difficult season of his career last year, said getting one early helps relieve some of the pressure.
“You wanna win games,” said Moulson. “Whatever you can do to help this team win. That was just a great play by Sam (Reinhart).”
Rasmus Ristolainen also tallied an assist on the Moulson goal. Montreal set the pace early outshouting the Blue and Gold by an 8-1 total. With Jack Eichel sidelined for six to eight weeks, and Kyle Okposo and Dmitry Kulikov both still on the mend from injuries has the Sabres coaching staff already pulling their hair out.
“There’s a little bit of shake your head and snake bit a little bit,” Bylsma said. “That’s kinda come in droves, but that’s part of our game and part of playing. You know you’re gonna have injuries. You expect to have them throughout your lineup, unfortunately you have a rash of them. That’s no excuse for how we need to play, how we can play. We’ve gotta fight through it.”
Al Montoya got the win in net as Montreal’s All-Star goalie Carey Price was sidelined with the flu.
Shea Weber, who came to Montreal for P.K. Subban in the huge off season trade with Nashville, picked up an assist on Gallagher’s second goal which made it 3-1.
A plus-3 in his first regular season game with the Habs, Weber took 32 shifts for a total of 24:04 minutes of ice time, both were the most for any player on either team.
“I think I had more (butterflies) in the first preseason game, actually,” Weber said. “It was more fun.”
GM Tim Murray signed a contract extension with the Sabres on Thursday.
“I felt secure. I’ve felt great here. They (ownership) have been very supportive here,” said Murray. “I can’t think of one time that I’ve gone to them with an idea they said no or even questioned.”
The Sabres will practice at the KeyBank Center Friday morning before leaving for the first road trip of the season to Western Canada which begins with a stop in Edmonton on Sunday to face Connor McDavid and the Oilers who beat Calgary 7-4 in their season opener Wednesday night. The Sabres will also play in Calgary next Tuesday and Vancouver on Thursday.