Kyle Okposo was injured Sunday. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu

Injured Kyle Okposo sidelined week to week; Don Granato returns to Sabres

BUFFALO – Sabres coach Don Granato called the timing of the lower-body injury that will sideline captain Kyle Okposo week to week “incredible.”

Okposo, 35, suffered the injury in Sunday’s 5-1 road loss to the Ottawa Senators, the same game Girgensons, 29, returned from a 17-game absence. The linemates hadn’t played a contest together since Nov. 24.

“I talked a lot about how nice it would be to have both of them in because we have not had both of them in for quite some time … that competitive guy, that experienced guy that knows how to play the game hard and direct,” Granato said following Tuesday’s practice in KeyBank Center. “So that’s unfortunate, because as a tandem, they’re good, they’re great, they’re even better. So it’s another challenge.”

Despite being injured, Okposo finished the game, never missing a shift.

“You can tolerate the pain, get through it, but you know that the next morning, the next day, the inflammation, it’s going to lock up, it’s going to seize up, whatever the terminology,” Granato said of the injury. “So he gutted it out the last little bit.”

Okposo’s loss is significant. In addition to being their captain, he has also been one of the Sabres’ best players. Since Nov. 24, he has scored a team-high eight goals.

“He’s been playing better and better, certainly the last 15 games he’s had a really great stretch,” Granato said. “He’s a competitor, ultra competitor. He’s, obviously, the leader we know, and those are two areas we’ve talked about, being more competitive, gritty.”

Okposo has compiled eight goals and 14 points in 38 games this season.

In other news, Granato returned to the Sabres on Tuesday after illness forced him to miss Saturday’s 3-2 home overtime win against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Sunday’s game.

Rochester Americans coach Seth Appert subbed for Granato, allowing the assistant coaches to focus on their regular duties.

Granato said he wanted to “keep everything the same.”

“Seth is in the routine of a head coach, so you know all the details and all the things that you have to think of, moving parts and pieces,” he said. “He’s done it every day this year as a head coach, so for him there’s no change. He has the support of all the other guys who are here every day.”

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