BUFFALO – It wasn’t just ex-captain Jack Eichel that had the 12,437 fans at KeyBank Center going bonkers throughout Thursday’s wild 3-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights.
The tight, gritty game featured suspect officiating that drew the ire of the season-high crowd throughout the memorable night. There were also two fights in the intense affair between teams that meet just twice a season.
The Sabres have been playing before the smallest crowds in franchise history all season, usually around 8,000 fans. So the players thrived on the extra intensity the raucous crowd brought to Thursday’s contest.
“It was unreal,” Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin said of the atmosphere. “It’s what you play for basically. They help us when we’re down a goal. They pumped our tires when it was a close game, too, and then Vic (Olofsson) scores and the crowd goes crazy.
“It’s just the best feeling for them to have your back and just cheering for you. It’s amazing. I can’t wait for people to come back, for sure.”
Sabres coach Don Granato hasn’t ruled out winger Rasmus Asplund and defenseman Casey Fitzgerald, both of whom suffered injuries Thursday, for Sunday afternoon’s Heritage Classic outdoor game against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Hamilton, Ont.
Asplund (lower body) and Fitzgerald (upper body) did not practice Friday.
Granato said Asplund, who left the Sabres’ 3-1 win after Chandler Stephenson’s shot in the first period, “felt good” Friday.
“But we want to get more imaging on him to make certain that he is as good as he feels,” Granato said. “That’s positive.”
Granato did not have an update on Fitzgerald, who was injured in his fight with Keegan Kolesar.
With Fitzgerald out, defenseman Mark Pysyk, a scratch Thursday, moved into the top six Friday.
Meanwhile, Anders Bjork skated in Asplund’s place on the fourth line at left wing beside center Cody Eakin and John Hayden.