WINNIPEG – After losing the first three games of their road trip, the Buffalo Sabres are in the market for any good news they can get and there's definitely some of that late Monday afternoon in Bell MTS Place.
As the team's practice started just before 5 p.m. EST, goaltender Linus Ullmark was on the ice with the team for the first time since injuring his ankle in the Jan. 28 loss to Ottawa. And winger Victor Olofsson, who appeared to suffer a serious right leg injury Saturday night in Arizona, was also a surprise participant.
Ullmark suffered a freak injury in the goal crease against the Senators, getting his skate caught in a rut and going down without colliding with any other player. He had established himself as the team's No. 1 goalie, posting a 16-14-2 record with a 2.72 goals-against average and .914 save percentage. Coach Ralph Krueger said Ullmark is here to get shots from NHL players and won't play in Tuesday's game against the Winnipeg Jets.
The Sabres host Pittsburgh on Thursday, play Saturday at Philadelphia and host Washington on Monday. It is realistic for Ullmark to play at some point in that stretch?
"I don't know. You take it day by day. This is my first team practice," he said. "We'll see how tomorrow goes, the next day after that and we'll take it from there."
Asked how close to normal Ullmark felt, he said, "Not that close to normal yet but better than I thought it would be. Definitely."
Olofsson, meanwhile, collided along the boards in front of the Arizona bench with Coyotes forward Brad Richardson and was immediately left with searing pain in his right leg. He hobbled to the bench and teammates helped him over the boards before he went down the tunnel to the locker room and did not return.
"I felt good yesterday on the day off, felt like I was able to practice today and felt good on the ice," Olofsson said. "I'm good to go. It happens once in a while. It's just you have to be a little bit more cautious. We didn't want to force anything."
Olofsson was skating in practice on his normal spot with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. He had just returned to the lineup Feb. 13 after missing 15 games with a high ankle sprain.
Even with that prolonged absence, he's third on the team in goals (19) and points (40). He's also third among NHL rookies in goals behind Chicago's Dominik Kubalik (29) and Los Angeles' Denis Gurianov (20), and is fourth in points behind defensemen Quinn Hughes of Vancouver (51) and Cale Makar of Colorado (47).