TORONTO – As the Buffalo Sabres split into two groups and began working on their power play hours before Monday’s 4-3 win over the Maple Leafs, winger Victor Olofsson took a knee and watched the units from the bench area.
It was an ominous sign that Olofsson, a staple of the power play for years, would be a healthy scratch against the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena.
With winger Alex Tuch returning from a lower-body injury, the Sabres had to create a spot up front. So for first time in his four-year NHL career, Olofsson was scratched.
Olofsson, 27, has struggled recently, scoring just one of his career-high 24 goals in the last 17 games. He ended a 15-game goal drought Thursday. His minus-22 rating ranks last on the team.
Still, the Swede has showcased improvement this season, scoring a career-high 19 even-strength goals, as many as he had in the previous two seasons combined.
He has often been labeled as a one-dimensional player who utilizes his lethal shot on the power play.
Olofsson signed a two-year, $9.5 million contract prior to the season.
Tuch, who hadn’t played since Feb. 24, took his usual spot at right wing beside center Tage Thompson and Jeff Skinner.
In other lineup news, Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin played against the Leafs after missing Sunday’s practice with an upper-body injury.
Clearly, Dahlin is nursing something that could require more maintenance.
“It’s the end of the season,” he said prior to the game. “I’m sure everyone’s got their stuff going on. So it’s a part of it and you just got to keep pushing.”
With defenseman Mattias Samuelsson week to week after suffering an upper-body injury, Jacob Bryson moved back into the lineup after sitting out two games.
The Sabres also made defenseman Kale Clague and winger Vinnie Hinostroza healthy scratches.