BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Sabres forward Evander Kane is out indefinitely after cracking three ribs in Thursday’s season opener.
Coach Dan Bylsma said Kane will miss “weeks,” the latest misfortune for a team already without top-line center Jack Eichel, who will miss several weeks after sustaining a high ankle sprain Wednesday.
Kane was hurt when he crashed into the end boards during the second period of Buffalo’s 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. He was taken to the hospital after the game and released Thursday night, Kane said.
While racing Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin for a loose puck up the left wing in the Montreal zone. Kane reached for the puck when the two bumped. Kane lost his balance, fell and slid with his left elbow slamming into the boards. Kane doubled over in pain as he was escorted off the ice.
Bylsma likened the impact of Kane hitting the boards to a car crash.
“It’s 25 mph going to a dead stop,” Bylsma said after Friday’s practice at KeyBank Center. “All the crash tests are done at, what, 30 mph? It’s 25 mph, and he’s going in hard. If you don’t get any injuries, it’s still a huge collision into a completely stationary object.”
Bylsma does not blame Emeline for Kane’s injury.
“They’re both going fast,” Bylsma said. “Evander’s a little bit ahead. Emelin jockeys with his shoulder to try to get in front. At the same time, Evander’s skate kind of goes.”
Kane posted on his Twitter page Friday, “Thanks to everyone for their well wishes.”
Kane had 20 goals and had 15 assists last season for the Sabres after being acquired in a trade with Winnipeg. He missed 17 games with a knee injury.
Kane had a tumultuous offseason in Buffalo. The 25-year-old player faces four counts of noncriminal harassment, one count of disorderly conduct and a count of misdemeanor trespass from a fight at a downtown bar in June. He is accused of grabbing three women by the hair and neck in separate encounters inside the bar and returning to the bar after being forcibly removed by a bouncer. He pleaded not guilty to all charges in August and is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 31.
The Sabres struggled before and after Kane’s injury in the opener. They were not only without Eichel but also forward Kyle Okposo (bruised knee) and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (back), two important offseason acquisitions.
Okposo and Kulikov practiced Friday and likely will return during Buffalo’s four-game road trip, which starts Sunday at Edmonton.
Eichel said he does not want to rush his return. The second-year player spoke following practice, using a scooter to move around the locker room with his left foot in a stabilizing boot. He will wear the boot for about 10 days and then have his ankle evaluated.
“High ankle sprains are tricky injuries,” Eichel said. “You just want to let everything heal and just go about the whole process the right way and take it day by day and listen to the trainers, listen to the doctors. Really, it’s a lot about patience and sticking to your game plan.”
The injury occurred with less than 10 minutes remaining in Wednesday’s practice when he became entangled with a defenseman and his leg buckled.
“Hockey’s a physical game and injuries are part of it,” he said. “So more than anything, it’s how you handle it and how you return.”
Eichel was the No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft. He is coming off a solid rookie season in which he had 24 goals and 32 assists in 81 games. Eichel played one year at Boston University and became the second freshman to win college hockey’s top honor, the Hobey Baker Award.