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Workhorses Cam Fowler, Rasmus Dahlin on display in Ducks-Sabres clash

Feb 15, 2024; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler (4) skates with the puck in the third period against the  Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

One of the few things that’s been predictable about the Anaheim Ducks and Buffalo Sabres this season is defensemen Cam Fowler and Rasmus Dahlin will spend plenty of time on the ice.

Heading into their teams’ matchup on Monday afternoon in Buffalo, Fowler is seventh in the NHL in ice time for the Ducks at 25:08, while fellow defenseman Dahlin is sixth for the Sabres at 25:20.

Because of injuries, Dahlin, 23, played a season-high 30:47 in the Sabres’ 3-2 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.

Buffalo coach Don Granato said a heavy workload is something Dahlin will need to get used to in the foreseeable future.

Owen Power injured his hand during practice last Monday and is listed as week-to-week. Fellow Sabres defenseman Mattias Samuelsson sustained an upper-body injury in a 4-2 loss in Anaheim on Jan. 23 and it required season-ending surgery.

“You’re missing more than 50 minutes a night between Owen Power and Samuelsson, over 50 minutes what they average, and that’s going to be dispersed through other guys, but mostly through ‘Dahl,’ ” Granato said. “It’s tough on matchups, he’s never getting an easy shift out there, so it’s a grind for him.”

Fowler has played heavy minutes for a team that’s struggled to keep the puck out of its net. His minus-27 rating this season is the second-lowest in the NHL.

Fowler, 32, has seen his workload decrease compared to earlier in the season. He’s only hit the 25-minute mark once in the past seven games.

Anaheim is coming off a 9-2 loss at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. That was a major step back from the Ducks’ performance on Thursday at the Ottawa Senators, when they cruised to a 5-1 victory.

Even that win was a stark turnaround from the game before, when they dropped the opener of the four-game trip 5-0 to the Montreal Canadiens.

“We just didn’t have any bite,” coach Greg Cronin said after the loss on Saturday. “It was the exact opposite of Ottawa, where we were going out hunting pucks down, closing gaps quickly, and we just didn’t have any of that, and a lot of it has to do with Toronto, too. They came out the way we should have come out.”

Radko Gudas, the other veteran defenseman for Anaheim, was a season-high minus-4 in the loss to Toronto while also compiling nine penalty minutes. Cronin doesn’t have any problem with what Gudas brings to the ice, however.

“You see him and he’s like a villain on the ice,” Cronin said. “You hate playing against him because he’s such a pain in the (butt), but when he’s on your team you really appreciate him.”

Ducks forward Alex Killorn returned against the Maple Leafs after missing nine games because of arthroscopic knee surgery and he contributed an assist in 18:43.

Buffalo forward Dylan Cozens scored with 37 seconds left in regulation to tie the score 2-2 against Minnesota on Saturday. Henri Jokiharju scored in overtime, his first NHL game-winner in his 319th game.

It was also the first time a Buffalo player scored the tying goal in the final minute of the third period since Tage Thompson on April 1, 2021, against the New York Rangers. The Sabres lost that game, 3-2 in overtime.

Granato recently reunited Thompson, Jeff Skinner and Alex Tuch on the top line and they combined for three assists in the win against the Wild.

“Pretty seamless transition for those guys,” Granato said. “They’ve played so much together.”

–Field Level Media

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