BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The image of an injured Thomas Vanek needing help down the runway with 6:21 remaining in the first period of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals silenced Buffalo Sabres fans at HSBC Arena.
Vanek, the Sabres’ top goal scorer during the regular season who had scored in Game 1 and assisted on Buffalo’s first goal on Saturday, suffered what is being called a lower-body injury and missed the rest of the game.
Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said after Boston’s 5-3 victory that he anticipates Vanek will go to Boston, but didn’t say whether he’ll be available to play in Game 3 on Monday.
Vanek was on a breakaway when Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk was called for a hooking penalty at 13:39 before both went crashing into the boards. When Vanek got to his feet, he couldn’t put any weight on his left leg and was clearly in pain.
“It looked like a two-handed slash,” said Ruff. “He was trying to break up the play.”
The injury to their top goal scorer completely discombobulated the Sabres for the rest of the game.
“Was trying to mix and match lines after that and we seemed to have lost a little bit of energy there,” said Ruff. “I thought we got it back with about eight minutes left in the second. It seemed pretty quiet and we didn’t get much going on.”
Boychuk said after the game that he didn’t know it was Vanek at the time of the penalty.
“I was just trying to get back and prevent a scoring chance,” Boychuk said.
With the series now tied at 1-1, the possibility of losing Vanek could result in a crushing blow for the Sabres.