BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Sabres’ playoff push hit a speed bump on Sunday, with top-line forward Alex Tuch and top defenseman Rasmus Dahlin ruled out from playing against the Washington Capitals.
Tuch was placed on injured reserve and will miss at least two weeks with a lower-body injury, general manager Kevyn Adams said before the game. Dahlin, a Norris Trophy candidate, is considered day to day and requires resting an injury he’s been playing through, Adams said.
Without revealing the nature of the players’ injuries, Adams said Tuch does not require surgery and is projected to return before the end of the season.
Tuch was hurt in the third period of a 3-1 win at the Florida Panthers on Friday.
The 26-year-old Tuch has been a mainstay on a line centered by Tage Thompson and rounded out by Jeff Skinner, and he ranks second on the team with 28 goals and 62 points — both career highs. He had scored four goals in his past five games, including the game winner at Florida.
“It’s a tough loss,” Adams said, referring to Tuch. "We believe internally in what we have in our locker room. It’s opportunity for guys to kind of step in and play a bigger role. But yeah, it’s just a massive player in our lineup from everything he does, not just the offensive side, but you guys see the minutes he plays, the situations he plays.”
The Sabres called up Vinnie Hinostroza from the minors to fill Tuch’s roster spot.
Adams acknowledged that Tuch’s injury places what he called “urgency” on trade talks leading up to the NHL’s trade deadline on Friday.
“The way I would say it, is we know these are critical games and just puts us in a position where we’re more open to things than maybe before, 48 hours ago,” Adams said. “It doesn’t change our plan or vision, but it just puts those conversations even more ... on the front burner.”
Buffalo opened the day 30-23-4 and in a tightly contested race for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card playoff berths as it tries to end an NHL-record 11-year postseason drought.