The good news-bad news scenario continues on the Buffalo Sabres' crisis-ridden defense.
Dmitry Kulikov, who has missed the last 11 games with a back problem that has dogged him since preseason, returned to practice In HarborCenter Sunday morning and is now listed as day to day. His return to the lineup is expected this week.
But the Sabres have lost another veteran as coach Dan Bylsma said Josh Gorges will be out weeks with a non-displaced fracture in his foot, suffered when he was struck by a shot during Thursday's win over the New York Rangers in KeyBank Center.
"That's a good thing it's non-displaced," Bylsma said. "That should should allow him to get back in a boot when he can tolerate the pain."
But there's more. Taylor Fedun also missed practice after he was banged up on a hit in the third period Saturday against Boston. He's questionable for Monday's game in Washington. That means another recall is likely coming from Rochester, either the return of Casey Nelson or the NHL debut of free-agent signee Erik Burgdoerfer.
Kulikov revealed he had cortisone injections in his back, which was injured when he fell into an open bench door during a Sept. 30 exhibition game against Toronto. Kulikov played the first 12 games of the season, collecting no points and a minus-4 rating, before the pain simply became too great to continue.
"It's been bothering me since training camp and it's been getting worse to the point where it's been interfering with day to day life," said Kulikov. "I made a decision to get an injection and it works sometimes right away. Sometimes it takes a couple weeks to work and that's how it was for me. It was just frustrating to wait. I didn't want to miss that much time. I just wanted it to get better so it doesn't affect me in the long run."
"He's had two good practices off the ice, physicality-wise, and today with the team, which is a great sign," Bylsma said.
Kulikov was partnered with Cody Franson Sunday while emergency recall Brendan Guhle took rushes with Justin Falk. Guhle will be on the trip and will play his second NHL game against the Capitals after an impressive debut Saturday.
"It was a good day," Kulikov said. "I've had a tough week, started skating almost eight days ago and making good progress. This is the next step, getting in practice and it feels good. It's day to day now, just getting some practices with the team and getting in the rhythm."