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Sabres' Staal day-to-day after taking headshot

Sara Schmidle / National Hockey League / Getty

Buffalo Sabres pivot Eric Staal left Thursday's game against the Washington Capitals midway through the third period after taking a hit to the head. He's considered day-to-day, head coach Ralph Krueger told WGR's Paul Hamilton.

Capitals forward Nic Dowd delivered the hit.

Dowd was given a two-minute minor on the play. Krueger said he was surprised it wasn't more.

Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe, who went after Dowd following the hit, classified it as a dirty play.

"I didn't see the hit itself. I just saw Eric kind of do a helicopter, which is usually a sign of a hit to the head," McCabe told The Athletic's John Vogl postgame. "As we all saw on the replay, it was definitely to the head and pretty dirty."

Sabres forward Taylor Hall agreed.

"That's a tough hit," Hall told Vogl. "He's not even a really dangerous player at that point when he has the puck, so for their guy to go after him and make contact with his jaw like that, it's not something that you want to see."

Buffalo acquired Staal in an offseason trade with the Minnesota Wild for Marcus Johansson. The team brought in the veteran to fill a massive void as its second-line center behind Jack Eichel.

The Sabres lost 6-4 to open their season.

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