BUFFALO – Sabres winger Patrick Kaleta said he had no clue he punched himself in the head Monday during his ferocious fight with Ottawa’s Jared Cowen until someone informed him.
Kaleta’s cool with his unusual move, though.
“Hey, if that’s what it takes to win a fight, then that’s what happens,” he said Tuesday after the Sabres practiced in HarborCenter.
Naturally, friends have been sending Kaleta the video. What happened? How does a veteran who has fought regularly throughout his career send his own left fist into the side of his head?
“From the looks of it, when he switched up, I was looking to block myself so I didn’t get hit in the face,” Kaleta said. “So even though it looks like I did, I don’t really think I did.”
Kaleta left the Sabres’ 5-2 loss to the Senators later when he tumbled hard into the boards. He had trouble getting up and couldn’t put any pressure on his right leg as he was helped off the ice.
It appeared the 28-year-old, who tore his right ACL last season and essentially broke his face three months ago, had suffered another major injury.
But Kaleta skated Tuesday with a swollen right eye and a large cut. His leg is fine. He’s ready to face the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight.
“He’s a tough man,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said about Kaleta. “I mean, the way he went into the boards and the way he went down, we thought for sure he was going to be out for a while. Then all of sudden, we come into the room a couple hours later he’s got a little smirk back on his face. He says, ‘I’ll be ready to go.’”
Kaleta hit his eye on the boards, and it “blew up” on him.
“That was the main reason the doctor wouldn’t let me come back,” he said.
Kaleta also had the wind knocked out of him and was scared about his knee because he suffered a “bit of a hip pointer” and his leg went numb.
His first fight this season went much better than his tumble.
“Good to get my first one in,” Kaleta said. “I felt like maybe at that time we could use a little bit of a spark. It is what it is. I don’t know if technically I should be fighting or whatever.”
Nolan said defenseman Tyler Myers, who had his first “real skate” Tuesday, will miss his fourth straight game tonight. Myers (lower body) practiced in a non-contact role.
Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (sick) is still sidelined. Center Torrey Mitchell, out the last six games after blocking a shot with his foot, is still limping and out “another little while,” Nolan said.
Meanwhile, defenseman Josh Gorges and Mike Weber both had maintenance days Tuesday and will play tonight. Nolan said the Sabres could make a lineup change. Goalie Jhonas Enroth is expected to start again.
The Sabres also assigned goalie Matt Hackett to Rochester after he cleared waivers Tuesday.