Nikita Kucherov ran into Buffalo goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen on Monday. ©2022, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres captain Kyle Okposo on Nikita Kucherov: ‘A terrific player but he’s dirty’

BUFFALO – Late in the third period of Monday’s 6-5 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, superstar Nikita Kucherov ran Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen in the crease, hitting the Sabres goalie high and knocking him to the ice as he fought for the tying goal.

Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin immediately pounced on Kucherov, igniting a melee.

Luukkonen stayed in the game, while Kucherov was penalized for goalie interference at 15:27 and Dahlin earned a roughing call.

The Sabres, of course, can live with losing their top defenseman for two minutes because he immediately addressed Kucherov’s antics, which have become tired to captain Kyle Okposo.

“It’s a bad play,” Okposo said following Tuesday’s practice at KeyBank Center. “… He’s obviously a terrific player but he’s dirty as well. He just is. You know what you’re going to get out there and he gets (ticked) off sometimes and he takes some liberties at times. We’ll see those guys again, but, yeah, we’re obviously upset. I mean, they say he gets hit into there, that’s (bull). He goes in there, he knows what he’s doing.

“So, yeah, I mean, it’s a good response by Dahls. If somebody’s going to run our goalie, you’re going to give it to him. So no problem with that, we all got in there.”

Sabres defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin, who had to be helped off the ice Monday after blocking Lightning captain Steven Stamkos’ shot, did not practice Tuesday.

The Sabres will know more on the Russian’s status today.

Meanwhile, defenseman Jacob Bryson, out the last two games with a lower-body injury, is progressing well and is trending toward day-to-day status, according to the team. He won’t, however, play in tonight’s road game against the Detroit Red Wings.

The Sabres originally said Bryson was week to week.

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