Rasmus Dahlin has been earning lots of ice time. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres’ Rasmus Dahlin maturing, responding to adversity within games

BUFFALO – Early in Friday’s 4-1 loss, Brad Marchand pressured Rasmus Dahlin behind the net, forcing him to cough up the puck. A second later, the Bruins star knocked the Sabres defenseman down and fed linemate David Pastrnak for the game’s first goal.

The turnover was one of a few gaffes Dahlin, 21, committed during a rough first period. But the Swede settled down and ended up playing a game-high 25 minutes, 4 seconds against Boston.

A year or two ago, Dahlin’s early struggles might’ve dogged him all night.

“The first goal against he wasn’t happy with and he recalibrated, he went right back at it, and I felt he approached that or responded the right way,” Sabres coach Don Granato said on a Zoom call prior to Saturday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils.

These days, Granato said Dahlin, who has been known to put a lot of pressure on himself, “gets back into the moment” following a mistake.

“He doesn’t carry that forward,” he said. “Even when I first got here a couple years ago, he would’ve carried that for a long time. He would’ve carried that through the game. So he was able to let that go, move on and refocus.

“Again, it’s a good sign of maturity and he’s maturing, like all of our young guys, every day with every situation. So I was happy to see that.”

Despite his heavy workload Friday, Granato played Dahlin a game-high 25 minutes, 53 seconds against in New Jersey as the Sabres finished their first back-to-back set. His 41.9 percent Corsi For was his lowest this season.

In five outings entering tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at KeyBank Center, Dahlin has compiled two assists, a plus-1 rating and a 53.6 percent Corsi For. Remember, last season, he generated an awful, NHL-worst minus-36 rating.

Dahlin has already skated more than 25 minutes three times, a total he only eclipsed four times in 56 games last season.

Granato said, Dahlin, the first overall pick in 2018, possesses “an extremely high personal standard.”

“Any outer expectations, he does have a high internal one, so a lot of times you deal with him not to be bringing it upon himself,” he said.

Sabres defenseman Will Butcher, who spent his first four NHL seasons with the Devils, played his first game as a visitor Saturday at Prudential Center.

“Lining up against Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, (Pavel) Zacha, guys that I came into the league with definitely was a little weird,” Butcher said. “A little surreal looking over to them, looking down and just having a different jersey on.”

Notes: The Sabres haven’t played the Lightning since a 6-4 loss Dec. 31, 2019 in Buffalo. … The Devils were the first team to outshoot the Sabres (39-25) this season. … The Sabres had Sunday off.

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