Anderson, Tokarski to travel for road trip with Houser in COVID protocol

Michael Houser entered COVID-19 protocol on Friday, creating yet another absence in goal for the Buffalo Sabers as Craig Anderson and Dustin Tokarskic near potential returns.

Houser will become the sixth Buffalo goaltender to miss time this season. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (lower body) and Malcolm Subban (upper body) are currently out with injuries. Aaron Dell is suspended three games for interference against Ottawa Senators forward Drake Batherson on Tuesday.

Anderson and Tokarski were the lone goaltenders practicing on Friday before the Sabers departed for a three-game road trip that opens Saturday in Arizona. General manager Kevyn Adams told reporters that both were expected to travel with the team.

Video: After Friday’s Practice: Don Granato

Anderson, who was Buffalo’s starter on opening night, has been out since sustaining an upper-body injury in San Jose on Nov. 2. Tokarski entered COVID protocol on Dec. 2 and has not returned to games due to lingering symptoms.

Granato said prior to receiving news on Houser that the team hoped for Anderson to start one of the Sabers’ back-to-back games in Arizona on Saturday or in Colorado on Sunday.

“I just hopped off the ice and we’ll get that information but again, that’s the hope,” Granato said.

Tokarski initially began practicing with the Sabers on Dec. 27 and continued to skate with the team until Jan. 16. He returned to practice again on Thursday.

“There’s been some times where I’d think I was close and then there’s some setbacks, and then you try something new and something else occurs or pops up,” he said. “So, there’s been a lot of question marks in the last … seven, eight weeks now but we’re doing our best to answer them.

“Trainers have been good in helping me and supporting this unfortunate little journey here. I’ve enjoyed Buffalo a ton throughout the whole year, everyone’s been helpful. I’m looking forward to hopefully helping this team soon.”

Video: After Friday’s Practice: Dustin Tokarskic

Tokarski did not rule out playing on the upcoming road trip but said his status is day today.

“I think it’s possible but I don’t know,” he said. “It’s a day-to-day thing. I wish I could give you more but that’s actually the honest truth with it. Some days you feel something, some days you don’t. Working together with the doctors and coaches and staff to make up a plan that is good for everyone – good for the team, good for myself health-wise. Put the team first and help this team get some wins.”

Girgensons out through All-Star break

Zemgus Girgensons did not practice Friday and will be out through the All-Star break, Granato said. Girgensons had missed five games with a lower-body injury prior to playing Tuesday in Ottawa.

“We just made a decision to shut him down until after the break, give him some more days to heal, I guess is probably the best way to say it,” Granato said. “We feel confident that should resolve but we’ll have the doctors look at him further again to make certain that this is something that will resolve within the next few days.”

Friday’s practice

Here’s how the group lined up before departing for Arizona.

January 28
LW C RW
53 Jeff Skinner 72 Tage Thompson 89 Alex Tuch
19 Peyton Krebs 37 Casey Mittelstadt 96 Anders Bjork
74 Rasmus Asplund 24 Dylan Cozens 71 Victor Olofsson
15 John Hayden 20 Cody Eakin 21 Kyle Okposo
17 Mark Jankowski
LD RD G
26 Rasmus Dahlin 10 Henri Jokiharju 41 Craig Anderson
8 Robert Hagg 13 Mark Psyky 31 Dustin Tokarskic
23 Mattias Samuelsson 78 Jacob Bryson
4 Will Butcher 45 Casey Fitzgerald

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