Rasmus Ristolainen (right) got close to Miles Wood when New Jersey visited Buffalo. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Three Sabres games postponed after players enter NHL’s COVID-19 protocols

The NHL late Tuesday afternoon postponed all Buffalo Sabres games through at least Monday after two players – winger Taylor Hall and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen – were added to the league’s COVID-19 protocol-related absences list.

The team’s training facilities will stay closed until further notice.

The Sabres had road games scheduled for Thursday against the New York Islanders and Saturday and Monday versus the Boston Bruins.

The NHL said a decision on next week’s Sabres game will be made in the coming days.

“Sabres players and staff have been closely following and will continue to follow the COVID protocols as outlined by the NHL and the team’s medical staff,” the Sabres said in a statement. “Our organization will continue to work with the league and our medical team to ensure the health and safety of our players and staff.”

On Tuesday morning, the league also postponed the Sabres’ scheduled 6 p.m. road game against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum so it could conduct proper COVID testing and contact tracing for Buffalo.

A snowstorm battering the New York City area forced the Sabres to change their travel plans Monday and reschedule their flight for Tuesday morning. That late departure, however, wouldn’t have allowed the testing and tracing to be “completed appropriately,” the NHL said in a statement.

The Sabres played games against the New Jersey Devils, who have 14 players on the COVID list, Saturday and Sunday at KeyBank Center. The NHL added five more Devils players to the list Tuesday and removed one.

Four Devils players were added to the list Monday, forcing the NHL to postpone their games through Saturday.

So far, the NHL has postponed 18 games this season. Fourteen teams – all of them in the United States – have been affected.

The Sabres’ next scheduled game is Feb. 11 at home against the Washington Capitals.

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