BUFFALO – As players trickled off the ice Monday following practice, Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen suddenly bolted down the hallway holding his nose and went to the trainer’s room.
Ristolainen apparently got caught in a rut on the ice, and his stick hit him in the face as he fell backward. The youngster will be OK, Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.
It’s a good thing, because the Sabres are running low on defensemen. They practiced Monday with only five healthy ones. Tyson Strachan and Mike Weber both missed the session inside the First Niagara Center. Both, however, are strong possibilities for tonight’s tilt against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, Nolan said.
Strachan missed Saturday’s 3-2 loss in Florida. He skated on his own Monday morning. Weber needed to be examined, Nolan said.
Meanwhile, defenseman Andrej Meszaros (possible concussion) practiced in a non-contact role. He has no timetable for a return. Meszaros said he got elbowed in the jaw Nov. 28.
Nolan said goalie Jhonas Enroth will likely start tonight, his seventh nod in the last eight games.
The Sabres spent much of Monday’s session working on their NHL-worst power play, which has only converted 6.6 percent of its opportunities. No one else is below 11 percent. They have five power-play goals in 76 attempts.
“Sometimes we try the saucer pass side-to-side instead versus just going up the wall to the point, try to get some traffic in front of the net,” Nolan said. “Simplicity is the best way to do it. We’re trying to get those things going.”
Nolan changed things up, putting winger Drew Stafford on a point and big winger Marcus Foligno up front.
“I’ve done it on and off over my career,” Stafford said about playing a point. “We’re trying new things. We’re trying new options and see if that can click.”
Notes: The Kings have three former Sabres defensemen – Jamie McBain, Brayden McNabb and Robyn Regehr – on their roster. … Nolan’s son, Jordan, has been a staple on the Kings’ fourth line since 2012. … Stafford on playing the Kings, who have won two of the last three Cups: “You kind of want to see where you’re at against other teams. We’ve had some challenges this year, but we’ve also beaten some pretty good teams as well.” The Sabres lost 2-0 on Oct. 23 in Los Angeles.