It’s been almost three months since Tyler Ennis played. Coach Dan Bylsma remains hopeful the forward will return before the Sabres’ season ends in three weeks.
Ennis, who is out with a concussion suffered Dec. 30, skated on his own and did an off-ice workout Monday in First Niagara Center.
“Tyler’s doing quite well, is improving,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “Worked out and skated this morning, so he’s doing better and better and the hopes of maybe moving in a positive direction in the next seven days.”
The Sabres have nine games remaining, starting with Tuesday’s visit to Carolina, so time is running short for Ennis to return. He has appeared in just 23 games and only four since Nov. 23 because of multiple concussions.
“I would love to see him on the ice with the team,” Bylsma said. “I would love to see him get healthy and play some games.”
Jack Eichel made the trip to Carolina and is expected to play after missing Saturday’s game in Toronto because of illness. Eichel, who did not practice Monday, is recovering from flu-like symptoms.
“I don’t think it was the flu,” said Bylsma, who added the center was fine when he arrived in Toronto following Friday night’s home game. “He had something to eat at the hotel, and by 4 in the morning he was not doing very good. Got a quick bug. Other people ate the same thing Jack ate at the hotel when we got there, so I’m not quite sure it was food poisoning, but that’s what it looked like.”
Defenseman Cody Franson (concussion) and goaltenders Robin Lehner (ankle) and Jason Kasdorf (groin) also skipped practice. Lehner did not go to Carolina.
“Resting, recovering, rehabbing, working out off the ice,” Byslma said. “We just want to take it slow. He could tape it up and try to skate today and see how the tweak goes or see where it’s at, but really kind of taking a full rest and recovery for it.”
Franson hasn’t played since being boarded Feb. 19 in Columbus.
“Franson’s off the ice and really kind of in a holding pattern for how he’s feeling,” Bylsma said.
As expected, negotiations were progressing between the Sabres and University of Minnesota right wing Hudson Fasching.
Every able-bodied male in Finland is required to serve at least six months of military service by age 29. Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, 21, has not yet fulfilled the obligation. It can be done during the summer, but the pending restricted free agent won’t do it this year.
“I don’t have a contract for next year, so I want to have a good summer,” he said.
The Hurricanes are 3-1-4 in their last eight games, giving them points in all but one since the trade deadline. They’ve gone to overtime in six of the last seven.
A solid penalty kill has helped. Carolina has stopped 38 of 41 for a 92.7 percent success rate. The Hurricanes have the best kill in the NHL since Dec. 4 at 87.9 percent.
Carolina is 10-3-2 in the last 15 games against the Sabres in PNC Arena.
Sabres forward Nicolas Deslauriers has never appeared in a shootout, even at the junior level. He may get the chance after a 4-for-5 showing during a competition at the end of practice.
“I know I have a good shot, so I just used it and got lucky, I think,” Deslauriers, who celebrated all his goals, said with a grin. “I like doing those things. It’s kind of proving to myself that I can score.”