Road to the Show - Eighteenth Edition

As the ECHL affiliate of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres and the AHL's Rochester Americans, the Jackals are tasked with developing prospects throughout the organization. The Road to the Show provides details on how those prospects are progressing.

Buffalo Sabres (NHL) – The Sabres took three of a possible six points last week, going 1-1-1 in three games. The week began with a 2-1 shootout loss in Ottawa. Matt Moulson scored his fifth goal of the season, and first goal in 44 games, for the Sabres only tally of the contest. However, the lack of goals was not from a lack of chances. Buffalo put 39 shots on goal, but only Moulson was able to beat Craig Anderson. In Buffalo’s crease, Robin Lehner played well against his former team, turning aside 25 of 26 shots taken by the Senators. Ryan Dzingel scored his first NHL goal for the Sens, as former Jackal, Chris Wideman picked up his third NHL assist. In the shootout, both Senators scored, while neither Jack Eichel, nor Matt Moulson were able to get the puck past Anderson.

On Friday night, the Sabres travelled to Columbus, and defeated the Blue Jackets, 4-0. Robin Lehner made 38 saves to earn his first shutout as a Sabre. In 13 starts this year, Lehner has a 4-5-3 record, but his other numbers indicate how well he has played. He has a team-best 2.45 goals-against average, and .928 save percentage, which would be tied for fourth in the NHL, if Lehner had played enough minutes to qualify. On the offensive end, Jamie McGinn scored twice for the Sabres, including the game winner. David Legwand scored a short-handed goal, which bounced into the Columbus net, though the shot was taken from Buffalo’s side of center ice. Sam Reinhart scored his team-leading eighteenth goal of the season. The sometimes forgotten second overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Reinhart has put together a rookie campaign to rival Jack Eichel’s. Reinhart’s 18 goals are third among all NHL rookies. He is also tied for the team lead with three game winners.

Buffalo’s week concluded with a hard fought 4-3 loss against the Penguins on Sunday afternoon. Zach Bogosian had his best offensive night as a Sabre, factoring in on all three goals, scoring two himself, and assisting on the other. It was Bogosian’s first three-point game since March 30, 2012, when he was a Winnipeg Jet. The captain, Brian Gionta scored the other Buffalo goal, and had an assist, only his second multi-point game of the season. On a less promising note, the Sabres played this game without their leading scorer, Ryan O’Reilly, who will be out for the next few weeks. After the up and down week, the Sabres remain in seventh place in the Atlantic Division with 55 points, and a 24-29-7 record.

Rochester Americans (AHL) – As Rochester has done, seemingly all season, they responded to a winless weekend, by rattling off three straight wins. On Friday night, the Amerks welcomed the Portland Pirates to the Blue Cross Arena for the first time in six years. Rochester managed to win the game, 2-1, in overtime, thanks to 43 saves by Linus Ullmark. Dan Catenacci scored his eighth goal of the season after being returned from Buffalo earlier in the day from his first stint in the NHL. Jason Akeson netted his eighth of the season to win the game for the Amreks in overtime. It was Akeson’s first multi-point game since December 18. He now leads the team with 30 points.

On Saturday night, the Americans defeated the Crunch, 6-2, thanks to a league-high 51 saves by Linus Ullmark, and the second career hat trick by Tim Schaller. Following a lengthy run with the Sabres, Ullmark has returned to Rochester and continued to improve his game. He now has a 6-6-0 record with the Amerks with a 2.79 GAA and .922 SV%. He has been even better lately. Thanks to his back-to-back stellar starts, Ullmark was named CCM-AHL Player of the Week, with a 2-0-0 record, 1.48 GAA, and .969 SV%. Tim Schaller’s hat trick helped move him into a tie for first on the team with 12 goals this year. Justin Bailey had a career high, three assists in the win. He now has five goals and nine assists in his last ten AHL games, which have resulted in multiple call-ups to Buffalo.

The weekend concluded with the first place Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins paying a visit to Rochester. Again, the Amerks found a way to win, this time, 3-2, in overtime. William Carrier scored both goals for Rochester in regulation. It was Carrier’s first two-goal game as an Amerk. His nine goals are tied for fourth on the team, and his plus-13 rating leads all Rochester skaters. Captain, Cal O’Reilly scored the game-winning-goal for the Americans on an overtime power play. He was called back up to Buffalo following the win. Rochester was in overtime, in large part, due to the brilliance of Nathan Lieuwen, who stopped 36 of 38 Penguin shots, to earn his team-leading, thirteenth victory of the season. Following an excellent week, Rochester has climbed back into the playoff race, and into fourth place in the North Division of the Eastern Conference with a points percentage of 0.519, 55 points, and a 26-24-2-1 record. They are three points behind third place Utica.