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Sabres in tough to handle O'Reilly's absence

Daniel Nugent-Bowman
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OTTAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 16: Ryan O'Reilly #90 of the Buffalo Sabres skates against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on February 16, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Sabres in tough to handle O'Reilly's absence

Daniel Nugent-Bowman
By:

The Buffalo Sabres were forced to play Sunday without their top forward, something they’ll have to get used to for the next several NHL games.

The Buffalo Sabres were forced to play Sunday without their top forward, something they’ll have to get used to for the next several NHL games.

Center Ryan O’Reilly missed Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins and afterwards coach Dan Bylsma announced he will miss the next three to four weeks with a lower-body injury.

Bylsma said O’Reilly sustained the injury in Friday’s 4-0 win in Columbus.

It will be a challenge for the Sabres to overcome the loss of O’Reilly, the club’s lone All-Star Game representative.

Acquired from Colorado last June, the 25-year-old has been relied on heavily by Bylsma and the Sabres in his first season in Buffalo.

No NHL forward plays more than O’Reilly. He skates 21:51 per game – 55 seconds more than teammate Evander Kane, who is second on the list.

O’Reilly also leads the league with 1,489 faceoffs taken. His 57 per cent success rate on the draws ranks eighth overall.

According to Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com, O’Reilly tops all Sabres forwards in total ice time on the penalty kill with 116:22. Despite the 26th-best record in the league at 24-29-7, the Sabres are tied for eighth in penalty killing efficiency at 82.8 per cent.

O’Reilly also leads the Sabres in scoring with 49 points in 59 games.

Right winger Justin Bailey replaced O’Reilly in the Buffalo lineup Sunday after he was recalled from the AHL’s Rochester Americans.

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Sabres in tough to handle O'Reilly's absence