There hasn’t been much to get excited about in regard to the Buffalo Sabres this season, unless you’re talking about Thomas Vanek.
Vanek had been out of the lineup, though, since February 28th after sustaining an upper-body injury and made his return against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. The results were about what you’d expect for what Vanek has put up on the stat sheet this season.
Against the Canes on Tuesday, Vanek had an assist, and probably should have had a goal. He was absolutely robbed on an open net opportunity by Carolina backup goaltender Justin Peters. With an open net in front of him, Vanek attempted to back hand the puck in. Peters stopped the shot with a diving stick save.
Peters stopped 37 shots on the night as the Canes emerged with the 4-3 win. Vanek’s assist came on Cody Hodgson‘s goal that put the Sabres on the board less than 30 seconds into the third period.
Vanek’s point adds to what has, somewhat quietly, been a brilliant season for the veteran forward. He’s among the league leaders in scoring the season, with 28 points for the year. He’s slowed down quite a bit of late though. He started the season with points in eight straight games, including two five-point games.
Since that last game of the streak, Vanek has just nine points to his credit. He’s still a driving force for the Sabres, but has also been dealing with that nagging upper-body injury. Even if he hasn’t been the same player over the past few weeks, getting Vanek back into the lineup was absolutely huge for the Buffalo Sabres.