|Canucks hold breath on Pettersson with Sabres up next|
Already down their star rookie center, the Vancouver Canucks are now dealing with a second injured center. And they're not sure if they'll have either Friday night.
With Elias Pettersson still out with a knee injury suffered on Jan. 3, the Canucks lost center Bo Horvat temporarily during Wednesday night's shootout loss to Edmonton. After the game, Horvat received treatment for what the team later termed a charley horse.
With the team hopeful Pettersson can go Friday at home against the Buffalo Sabres, coach Travis Green delivered news following Thursday's practice that tempers those hopes ... but offers up good news on Horvat.
"Horvat has a charley horse, but is expected to play tomorrow, whereas Pettersson is not expected to play, according to Coach Green," the team announced on its official Twitter account Thursday afternoon.
Speaking with reporters after practice, Pettersson said he pushed himself harder on Thursday, and that while he is not worried about when exactly he will return, it will be soon.
Pettersson, 20, is Vancouver's top scorer and the NHL's leading rookie point producer. He originally sustained a sprained knee in Montreal when he got tangled up with the Canadiens' Jesperi Kotkaniemi, a game after registering a hat trick in Ottawa.
"(The injury) was an accident," Pettersson, a leading rookie-of-the-year contender, told reporters earlier in the week. "We got tangled up, and my knee got stuck in a bad position -- and it could have been a lot worse. I don't think he wanted to injure me."
And, the Canucks are more than ready to welcome him back. He was clearly missed in Wednesday's loss to the Oilers, when the Canucks could not convert several good scoring chances.
Also, the Canucks have struggled without him. They have lost four of their past five games, including the game in which he was injured in the first period.
As for Horvat, he was injured in a collision with former Canuck Zack Kassian late in the game against Edmonton. He left the bench for a few moments but did not miss a shift. Nonetheless, the Canucks called up center Tanner Kero from Utica of the AHL on Thursday morning as a precaution.
Meanwhile, the Sabres are hoping Wednesday's overtime win in Calgary will spell better times to come. The win not only ended Buffalo's losing three-game losing streak, but also it came on the road against the top team in the Western Conference. And the winner came off the stick of Jack Eichel.
"Obviously you put a lot of pressure on yourself," Eichel told reporters after scoring his first goal in four games since returning from an upper-body injury. "When things aren't going well, you want to be one of the guys who makes a difference.
"I think that's when you start gripping your stick and start thinking about (not having scored) a little too much. Hopefully that goal can get me going again. It's just what I needed."
The victory also helped bolster the spirits of the team as a whole following a 7-2 shellacking in Edmonton on Monday. Eichel and winger Evan Rodrigues suggested that the recent tough times have reinforced the club's unity.
"Sometimes those games make you come together even more," Rodrigues told reporters.
He wants to see more strong defensive efforts like the one the Sabres displayed in Calgary.
"That's the way we're going to have to play to win games," Rodrigues said.
It will also help if rookie defenseman Rasmus Dahlin maintains his recent offensive prowess while helping to prevent goals. Dahlin, the first overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, extended his point streak to five games with a goal against Calgary.
According to the Sabres, Dahlin is only the fourth 18-year-old NHL defenseman to record such a feat. The others were Phil Housley (the current Sabres coach who was playing for Buffalo at the time), Florida's Aaron Ekblad and Boston's Bobby Orr, who had two five-game point streaks as a rookie.
--Field Level Media