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Sabres notebook: Phil Housley stays mum on when Dahlin will debut

Phil Housley won’t say when Rasmus Dahlin will make his debut for the Buffalo Sabres.

It could be Monday night when the Sabres open the preseason at Columbus. Housley and his staff could also wait until Tuesday to unveil the Swedish defenseman to the home crowd, when the Sabres host Pittsburgh at KeyBank Center.

As of Sunday morning, Housley remained cagey as to whether Dahlin will immediately be in the lineup.

“We’re going to evaluate that shortly,” Housley, the second-year Sabres coach said after Sunday’s practice and scrimmage at HarborCenter. “We’ll have a roster coming out, but as you know (Zach Bogosian) and (Conor) Sheary were out for maintenance days so we’ve got to see where they’re at.

“But we’ll make a decision this afternoon.”

The Sabres face the Blue Jackets in the first of seven preseason exhibition games at 7 p.m. Monday at Nationwide Arena.

While Housley wouldn’t give a definite on whether Dahlin will play Monday at Columbus or Tuesday against Pittsburgh, the rookie certainly helped his cause by scoring two goals and an assist in the Sabres’ first intrasquad scrimmage.

Dahlin gave the Blue team a 2-0 lead about seven minutes into the Sabres’ 45-minute scrimmage, as he took a pass from Scott Wilson and beat Yellow goalie Carter Hutton on a shot from the left circle.

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Then, he drove to the net and beat Hutton about seven minutes later, on a pass from Patrik Berglund.

“His timing is really impeccable,” Housley said. “He jumps into the play at the right time and when he beats a guy, he moves the puck, right away and gets it up ice. Overall, I just liked the way he’s developed so far in this camp.”

•••

The Blue team dominated the Gold team in a 7-1 win, in the Sabres’ first intrasquad scrimmage.

The Blue team featured the top forward line of Jeff Skinner, Jack Eichel and Kyle Okposo, and the top two defensive pairings of Marco Scandella and Rasmus Ristolainen and Dahlin and Jake McCabe.

Skinner and Eric Cornel, a forward who played last season with Rochester of the AHL, scored goals to help the Blue team to a 4-0 lead. The Gold team put only two shots on Blue goalie Linus Ullmark in the first 25 minutes.

Kyle Criscuolo, Ristolainen and Scott Wilson also scored for the Blue team, while Brandon Hickey scored for the Gold team.

“I just liked the competition,” Housley said. “Obviously, it’s the third day of camp, so it’s kind of like that hump day. They’ve got two really tough practices, and I think you can see they’re a little tired at time, but, mainly, getting them to get to game condition. You can prepare yourself, but once you get into the bump-and-grind, it’s just a different situation.”

One of Housley’s conditioning tactics: playing a 45-minute scrimmage with a running clock, as there had been concerns about the Sabres’ stamina coming into camp.

“You think of a period in a game, it’s 35-45 minutes, depending on stoppages,” Housley said. “We wanted to give them a game-like condition, and to evaluate them in their changes, and all the little details that go into playing a game.”

•••

The Sabres announced Sunday that goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has been assigned to Sudbury of the Ontario Hockey League and that goalie Michael Houser has been added to the training camp roster. Houser played in 45 games with Fort Wayne of the ECHL in 2017-18, where he was 28-11-0 with a .909 saves percentage and a goals-against average of 2.73. Houser made one save in one game with the Tucson Roadrunners of the American Hockey League.

•••

The Sabres will hold their morning skate at 10:30 a.m. Monday at KeyBank Center, then fly to Columbus for a 7 p.m. preseason game against the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

Players who won’t play in the preseason game Monday at Columbus will practice at 9:15 a.m. Monday at HarborCenter and will scrimmage at 9:50 a.m.

The Sabres will skate at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at KeyBank Center, prior to a preseason home opener at 7 p.m. against Pittsburgh. Players who won’t be in the lineup Tuesday night will practice at 11:15 a.m. Tuesday at HarborCenter, then scrimmage at 11:50 a.m.

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