BUFFALO – Sabres captain Jack Eichel’s upper-body injury doesn’t appear to be serious.
Eichel, 22, missed Thursday’s 4-3 win against the Florida Panthers inside KeyBank Center and will also sit out Saturday’s road tilt against the Boston Bruins, Sabres coach Phil Housley said.
The slick center, who earned a spot in the NHL All-Star Game on Wednesday, will be reevaluated early next week, Housley said.
“It’s very encouraging,” Housley said of the news. “Obviously, Jack’s been a big part of our team and his contributions. I want to say congratulations for making the All-Star team.”
Officially, Eichel is day-to-day, Housley said.
The Sabres’ leading scorer had a maintenance day from Sunday’s practice before leaving Monday’s 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders after skating only four shifts.
Eichel, who hasn’t been practicing, has compiled 14 goals and 49 points in 40 games this season. He has missed 38 games in his four-year career.
Sabres winger Jeff Skinner, whose 28 goals rank second in the NHL, seemed unfazed by being left off the Atlantic Division roster for the NHL All-Star Game.
“There’s a lot of great players,” Skinner said prior to scoring twice Thursday. “You’ve got to fit a lot of great players in not a lot of spots. That’s just the way it goes. It is what it is. It’s sort of not my focus. It was news for yesterday.”
Was Skinner snubbed?
“I don’t know if it’s a snub,” Housley said. “There’s a lot of great players in this league that aren’t going to be able to play in the All-Star Game. Jeff Skinner’s obviously been a big, big contributor for us, has put us in this position.”
There is, however, still a chance Skinner, 26, could represent the Atlantic Division on Jan. 26 in San Jose.
NHL.com has a “Last Men In” vote running until Jan. 10. Every team has one player on the ballot. The leading vote-getter from each division will go to the game.
“It’s good to see he still has an opportunity with the voting, so everybody please get out there and vote for Jeff Skinner,” Housley said.
Sabres rookie defenseman Lawrence Pilut returned Thursday after sitting out two games as a healthy scratch. To make room, Nathan Beaulieu sat out.
Pilut assisted on winger Sam Reinhart’s third-period goal, his fourth point in 10 outings.
Pilut, 23, and Rochester Americans defenseman Zach Redmond, 30, have both earned spots in the AHL All-Star Game on Jan. 28 in Springfield, Mass., the league announced Thursday.
Pilut, who joined the Sabres on Nov. 21, roared into the AHL earlier this season, scoring three goals and 22 points in his first 16 games with the Amerks.
Redmond has been one of the league’s most valuable players, compiling a team-high 15 goals and 28 points, the most among active AHL defensemen, in 32 games. His seven game-winning goals lead the league.
Legendary Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek, who’s in town for the team’s skills competition on Sunday, watched the game from a suite.
Twenty-five years ago, Hasek, then a little-known 27-year-old backup thrust into regular duty when Grant Fuhr was injured, enjoyed one of the greatest seasons ever, posting a 1.95 goals-against average, the lowest number in 20 years.
“That was probably the most dominating goaltending performance (I’ve seen), and let’s face it, the games that he won by himself, amazing, amazing,” said former Sabres defenseman Randy Moller, the Panthers’ television color analyst.
Moller added: “I don’t think I had ever played with a goalie that was not only that successful but you just wondered how he was able to do it.”
It can be easy to forget now, but Hasek arrived from the Chicago Blackhawks on Aug. 7, 1992 with little fanfare.
“Everybody was like, ‘OK, we got a backup goaltender’ and that,” Moller said. “But very quickly we knew that this guy was the real deal. He had the reflexes, he had the flexibility, he had a really good compete level to stop pucks.
“He was so competitive in practice. He practiced the same way he played, which a lot of goaltenders are not like that.”
Moller remembers Hasek wanted his teammates to take slap shots on him from 10 feet out during practice.
“I’ve never, ever seen that before,” Moller said.
The Sabres also scratched defenseman Matt Hunwick.