Dahlin has missed the past two games with an undisclosed injury, a significant blow for the Sabres as they continue to battle for a playoff spot. They’ve conceded nine goals in their past two outings without Dahlin, and while they were able to rally for seven goals to defeat the Washington Capitals, poor defense cost them points against the league-worst Columbus Blue Jackets.
The 22-year-old has been one of the top defensemen in the league this season, recording a jaw-dropping 62 points in 56 games. He leads all Sabres skaters in ice time, averaging 26:01 per game. He’s still classified as day-to-day, though, and could be activated ahead of Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers if healthy. However, the move to injured reserve confirms he’ll miss at least the next two games.
It’ll be a tough go for those two games against high-powered division rivals: the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning. Stillman is ready to join the team after being acquired Monday from the Vancouver Canucks and clearing immigration hurdles. Although he provides NHL experience, he doesn’t move the needle much to fill in for someone of Dahlin’s caliber. It means the pressure shifts almost entirely to rookie Owen Power to ensure the Sabres don’t lose too much ground in the playoff race over the next few days.
The 24-year-old Stillman had played in 32 games for the Canucks before the trade, registering five assists. Now on his fourth NHL team, Stillman could relieve Jacob Bryson in the lineup. His pairing with Ilya Lyubushkin has been the team’s worst in terms of expected goals among pairings with at least 150 minutes together, per MoneyPuck.
Buffalo remains in a playoff spot by points percentage, but the New York Islanders and now-fortified Ottawa Senators stay on their tail.