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. He missed Friday’s 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild at KeyBank Center.
“He’s dealing with some soreness that we’re hoping resolves sooner than later,” Sabres coach Don Granato said prior to the game. “It’s gotten better.”
Tuch, who has scored three goals in his last two games, could be an option for tonight’s road game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
With Tuch out and winger Victor Olofsson a healthy scratch again, forward prospect Matt Savoie, 19, made his NHL debut and Dylan Cozens returned from a two-game absence.
Cozens, who appeared to break his nose in a fight last Friday, sported a full face shield.
“I’ve never worn one before,” he said. “… It’s a new thing for me, but I’ll adjust fast, I guess.”
Instead of skating at center, his usual spot, he took Tuch’s place at right wing alongside center Tage Thompson and Jeff Skinner.
In other injury news, Granato said defenseman Mattias Samuelsson “is a possibility” to play tonight. Samuelsson suffered a lower-body injury last Friday and has missed three games. He skated again Friday morning.
The Sabres must make a roster move to activate Samuelsson off injured reserve. When he went down, the Sabres recalled rookie defenseman Ryan Johnson from the Rochester Americans.
Johnson, who played his third game Friday, has spent the last two contests skating alongside Rasmus Dahlin.
“He’s earned it and he’s been impressive all the way,” Granato said of Johnson’s ice time.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the Sabres try to keep the youngster up.
Other than saying a few extra hellos during the pregame warm-up, Sabres winger Jordan Greenway expected Friday’s meeting with the Wild, his former team, to be a pretty normal game.
“At first it’ll be a little weird, but I don’t think it’ll be … too much of a challenge,” said Greenway, who arrived March 3 in a trade with the Wild.
Greenway, 26, has fit in well with the Sabres, averaging a career-high 16 minutes, 31 seconds of ice time per game this season entering Friday’s contest. General manager Kevyn Adams said last season that Granato, who also coached the Canton native in junior hockey, “pounded the table” for Greenway.
“He’s a guy that really takes the time out to know how to push every guy, know how to coach each individual differently,” Greenway said. “He’s had a little bit more time maybe with me, so he knows what to do. He’s got a lot of confidence in me. He’s told me that a ton. Just knowing that, really, for a player is huge.”
Greenway, who stays in Minnesota during the summer, played 317 games for the Wild over parts of six seasons.
“My time there was great, unbelievable,” Greenway said. “There’s nothing but positive things that I can say about that organization.”