If it seemed like the season couldn't start worse for the Sabres, think again.
One day after Jack Eichel suffered a high-ankle sprain, fellow scoring forward Evander Kane was taken to the hospital with an injury. He got hurt Thursday night during Buffalo's 4-1 loss to Montreal in the season opener.
Kane was speeding toward a puck in the corner along with Montreal’s Alexei Emelin with 11.3 seconds left in the second period. The defenseman gave Kane a shove in an attempt to gain an edge, and Kane went down. He slid into the boards at a high rate of speed, with his entire left side crashing into the end of the rink.
Kane immediately rolled around in pain as play stopped for several minutes. Kane, who had major surgery on his left shoulder less than two years ago, was helped to the hallway by two teammates.
Kane was put on a stretcher and taken to the hospital for further evaluation and precautionary measures. There was no immediate word on his condition.
Rare opening loss: The Sabres historically have been good at home when the year kicks off, but the inaugural game in newly renamed KeyBank Center was an exception. Buffalo fell to 17-9-4 in season openers held in Buffalo.
Grab a Moulson: The Sabres celebrated with Matt Moulson when the forward scored Buffalo’s first goal of the year. It came before many of the fans had reached their seats with 35 seconds gone the third period. With Shea Weber in the box for cross-checking, the Sabres needed only 12 seconds of power-play time to cut the team’s deficit to 2-1. Sam Reinhart, who had the puck behind the net, spotted Moulson open in front for a quick one-timer.
Tips accepted: Brendan Gallagher quickly re-established the Canadiens' two-goal lead with his second goal of the night. Weber helped make it happen, taking a high shot from the blue line. Gallagher crossed the middle of the ice and tipped the puck past goaltender Robin Lehner with 13:17 to play.
Closing the deal: Montreal made it 4-1 on a scramble in front with 8:24 remaining. Buffalo issued its first coach's challenge of the season, but replays confirmed no one interfered with Lehner on Andrew Shaw's goal.
Hi, Jack: Eichel took part in the pregame ceremony despite being sidelined with a high-ankle sprain. Using a scooter to keep his left leg up, the Sabres star wheeled to the end of the bench and waved to the crowd. General Manager Tim Murray said he expects Eichel, who was wearing a walking boot, to be out six to eight weeks.
Murray staying put: About an hour before puck drop, the Sabres announced a multiyear contract extension for Murray. The GM was entering the last year of his deal after taking over in January 2014.
Taking the first: The Canadiens opened the scoring with 8:43 off the clock. Using Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges as a screen, Gallagher put a shot through the legs of the blue-liner and past Lehner. The puck found the net just inside the post.
Buffalo killed two penalties and received a couple of big hits from Marcus Foligno, but the rest of the first period belonged to the Canadiens. The Sabres’ best scoring chance was a short-handed breakaway by Kane that goalie Al Montoya turned aside with his blocker.
Familiar faces strike: A pair of former Sabres combined to give the Habs a 2-0 lead with 3:21 gone in the second. Paul Byron drove hard to the net with the puck, and Torrey Mitchell cleaned up the play at the top of the crease.
Showing life: It took 30 minutes, but the Sabres finally gained momentum with a couple of impressive power plays midway through the second. After three shots on the first opportunity, Buffalo buzzed the net during the second one but couldn’t connect on point-blank chances. Buffalo recorded a 15-7 shot advantage during the period.
Line changes: With Eichel, right wing Kyle Okposo (bruised knee) and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (butt bruise) out of the lineup, Sabres coach shifted his forward lines and defense pairs. Ryan O’Reilly centered for left wing Kane and right wing Reinhart. Johan Larsson skated in the middle of Tyler Ennis and Foligno. Zemgus Girgensons centered for Moulson and Hudson Fasching. Derek Grant was in the middle for Nicolas Deslauriers and Brian Gionta.
The defense pairs were Gorges-Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe-Zach Bogosian and Casey Nelson-Cody Franson.
Okposo could return to practice Friday, setting up the possibility of playing this weekend.
Next: The Sabres will be the second team to visit the new palace in Edmonton when they face the Oilers at 7 p.m. Sunday in Rogers Place. It’s the start of a three-game road trip through western Canada that will also take the Sabres to Calgary and Vancouver. The next home game is Oct. 27 when Minnesota comes to town.