BUFFALO – Before Dan Bylsma answered a question about the suspect hit that likely concussed Sabres winger Dan Catenacci late in Thursday’s ugly 5-1 road loss in Philadelphia, the coach paused for a few moments.
Clearly, Bylsma, who said he hadn’t watched a replay, wanted to choose his words carefully.
Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas, who has a reputation for questionable hits and has been suspended by the NHL once, won’t have a disciplinary hearing. Meanwhile, Catenacci missed Friday’s exciting 6-4 win against the Montreal Canadiens.
Gudas hit a vulnerable Catenacci while he had his head down and was engaged with another player.
“Gudas steps up into that hit without any other possibility than to hit his head first,” Bylsma said Friday morning inside the First Niagara Center. “That’s the way I saw it in my mind’s eye (Thursday) night.”
Bylsma said Catenacci is OK but also dealing with side effects.
The Sabres, of course, are livid with Gudas. Defenseman Jake McCabe, immediately fought Gudas, earning an instigator penalty the league later rescinded, meaning his automatic one-game suspension was voided.
Sabres winger Marcus Foligno, who fought Gudas earlier in the game after an iffy hit, said he was “disappointed” the Czech won’t face any discipline.
“I mean, that guy’s an idiot, and that’s all I can say,” Foligno said. “I mean, that guy, he’s been doing it for years … and gets away with a lot of cheap shots.”
He added: “Jake did the right thing. He’s a big boy and he handled himself.”
Is Gudas a dangerous player?
“I think you got to know when he’s out there,” McCabe said. “He plays teetering that line. With his previous suspensions, that speaks for itself.”
With Catenacci out, the Sabres recalled forward Phil Varone from Rochester, where he has 12 goals and 26 points in 38 games with the Americans. Varone, 25, had one goal in four NHL games earlier this winter. To make room for Varone, the Sabres placed Catenacci on injured reserve.
Winger Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) and center Johan Larsson (undisclosed) are still out.
The Sabres recalled Williamsville native Justin Bailey earlier this week. The winger made his home debut Friday.
Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo played his first game Friday since Jan. 5. Incredibly, it was only his second appearance since Dec. 7.
Colaiacovo, a likable veteran to Sabres signed for depth, patiently waited for his opportunity, Bylsma said. Friday was Colaiacovo’s 21st game this season.
“I think he’s handled it like a professional,” Bylsma said. “I know he’s been disappointed with not getting in there and having the opportunity to play. I said to him his last four practices have been outstanding. He’s worked at his game in practice; he’s worked diligently.
“I told him that’s not why he’s getting an opportunity to play tonight, but it has shown exactly where his mindset’s been, and I think he’s ready to step in and do a job.”
Defensemen Mark Pysyk and Mike Weber were scratched.