Matt Savoie celebrates a goal in Rochester last Friday. ©2023, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Sabres’ Alex Tuch still battling injury; Matt Savoie to make NHL debut

BUFFALO – As the Sabres convened for their optional morning skate, winger Alex Tuch emerged from the tunnel and joined his teammates on the ice.

But before the session started, Tuch, who’s battling an upper-body injury, left the ice. Coach Don Granato said he’s questionable for tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild in KeyBank Center.

“He’s dealing with some soreness that we’re hoping resolves sooner than later,” Granato said this morning. “It’s gotten better.”

Granato said it’s “doubtful” Tuch, who has scored three goals in the last two games, will play both contests this weekend. The Sabres also play a road game Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Even if Tuch plays, Granato said forward prospect Matt Savoie, 19, will make his NHL debut tonight. Savoie, the ninth overall pick in 2022, recently completed a conditioning stint with the Rochester Americans.

Granato also said center Dylan Cozens, who was injured in a fight last Friday, should return tonight. Cozens, who must wear a full face shield, has missed two games.

It’s unclear where Savoie will play. He has recently practiced in Tuch’s spot at right wing alongside top center Tage Thompson and Jeff Skinner.

Granato said Savoie has “kept himself very well prepared.”

“He went to Rochester and played six games, and the coaches there spoke of his consistency, the intangible competitive attributes,” he said. “And we didn’t know despite how well he played in Rochester, if we were going to have a roster spot for him. With injuries, now you can look at that as an opportunity, and we’re comfortable that he deserves it. Sometimes guys get opportunities they may not have fully worked for just because you’re depleted. He’s earned this, a lot of hard work.

“We got to see him last year in training camp, big difference between him last year and this year, taking the experience learned a year ago to make himself better and be better prepared this time around.”

In other injury news, Granato said defenseman Mattias Samuelsson “is a possibility” to play Saturday. Samuelsson suffered a lower-body injury last Friday and has missed two games.

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