Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel missed a third consecutive game Tuesday night, but Sam Reinhart was in the lineup against the New Jersey Devils at KeyBank Center.
Eichel participated in the morning skate but was ruled out with an upper-body injury. Reinhart, meanwhile, was a game-time decision after missing practice the previous two days with an illness.
It would have been the first time since Eichel was drafted second overall in 2015 that he and Reinhart missed the same game. With Eichel out, Reinhart skated on the Sabres' second line with Evan Rodrigues and Conor Sheary.
"[Eichel] had a good skate yesterday for part of the practice, today a good skate," Housley said. "We're just being cautious with that, but he will not be playing tonight."
The Sabres (22-14-6) have gone 1-1 without Eichel the past two games. The captain and star center returned to practice Monday in HarborCenter, though he was not on the ice for the first 20 minutes.
Eichel told reporters afterward he was encouraged by his progress but added he was "not in a rush" to return. An All-Star selection for a second consecutive season, Eichel has 15 goals among a team-high 49 points in 40 games this season.
In his absence, Rodrigues has received the most playing time as the top-line center. Casey Mittelstadt was given the opportunity to skate with Reinhart and Jeff Skinner in the third period of the 2-1 loss in Boston on Saturday.
Skinner remained on the first line with Vladimir Sobotka and Tage Thompson during the morning skate and against the Devils.
Reinhart has 40 points, including a career-high 31 assists, in 42 games. He is on pace for 18 goals and 62 assists, the latter of which would more than double his previous career high.
"The good news I feel really good today and back to my normal self," Reinhart said following the morning skate. "I’m excited about the possibility of getting into another game tonight."
Eichel, on the other hand, has participated in less than two full practices since he left in the first period of a 3-1 home loss to the New York Islanders on Dec. 31. He only helped with the Sabres' penalty kill during Tuesday's morning skate.
The Sabres, who are clinging to the second wild-card spot entering tonight's game, have a difficult schedule ahead. They play in Carolina on Friday, followed by a home game against Tampa Bay on Saturday before a three-game trip to Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.