Road to the Show - Eleventh 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 suffered through a difficult week, losing three straight games, all of which presented opportunities for the team to emerge victorious. On Wednesday night, the Sabres travelled to Washington to play the Eastern Conference leading Capitals, in the second half of a home-and-home series. Buffalo led the game 2-1 after the second period, but an Alex Ovechkin fronted third period tidal wave gave the Caps a 5-2 win. Zemgus Girgensons, an All-Star last season, had one of his best games of the season. He scored a goal and had an assist in the loss. The young Latvian now has three goals and five assists on the year. Chad Johnson made 38 saves in the game and played well in the defeat.

Buffalo welcomed the New York Islanders to the First Niagara Center on Thursday night for a New Year’s Eve clash. Unfortunately, the Sabres ran into a German buzz saw as Thomas Greiss turned in a stellar performance, stopping 42 Buffalo shots, leading the Islanders to a 2-1 victory. Linus Ullmark posted a 31 save performance, but came up one save short in the goaltending duel. To add insult to injury, the eventual game-winning-goal was challenged by Dan Bylsma, but the referees ruled that Ullmark had not been interfered with on the controversial play. Ryan O’Reilly scored the Sabres only goal, his team leading, fifteenth goal of the season.

The Sabres wrapped up their disappointing week with a 4-3 loss against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday afternoon. The Sabres were only three minutes away from at least earning a point, when Tomas Tatar gave the Wings the 4-3 lead. Petr Mrazek made 32 saves in a game in which the Sabres played well throughout. The high note of the game, and the week, has been the outstanding play of Jack Eichel. Eichel scored twice against Detroit and is currently on a three-game point streak with two goals and three assists in that span. He also has points in six of his last seven games, with four goals and seven assists in that stretch. With his recent hot streak, Eichel has moved to second on the team with 13 goals, and third on the team with 12 assists and 25 points. Eichel’s 13 goals are also second among all NHL rookies this season, as he continues to put together a potential Calder Trophy winning season. Buffalo is now in eighth place in the Atlantic Division with 34 points, and a 15-20-4 record. They are 10 points out of the last playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

Rochester Americans (AHL) – The Americans posted a 1-1-1-0 record this past week. On Wednesday night, the Amerks played a home game against the St. John’s Ice Caps at the First Niagara Center, in Buffalo. Amerks and Sabres fans alike were treated to an exciting 3-2 shootout win for Rochester. Two defensemen, Jerome Leduc and Brady Austin scored for the Americans in regulation, and all three Amerks scored in the shootout for the Rochester victory. Nathan Lieuwen stopped 25 shots and one more in the shootout to earn the win. It was an important win for the Americans, especially with the game being played in Buffalo. It was a chance for all the Rochester players to impress the Buffalo organization and possibly earn a call-up to the NHL.

Saturday night brought the Amerks to Bridgeport, Connecticut, for the first time in almost 14 years. Rochester managed to get a point out of the contest, a 4-3 loss in overtime. Justin Bailey scored twice for Rochester, the first multi-point game of his career. Bailey, the son of former Buffalo Bills linebacker, Carlton Bailey, was drafted by the Sabres in the second round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. In his first pro season, he is tied for fifth on the Americans with 12 points, which also ties him for second on the team among rookies. Nathan Lieuwen made 30 saves and was credited with the OTL.

Sunday night found the Amerks in Providence, Rhode Island for the first time since the 2008-09 season. Unfortunately, the Bruins were far from hospitable and defeated the Americans 5-2. Jerome Leduc scored both goals for the Americans in the defeat. It was Leduc’s first multi-point game since the season opener, and the first multi-goal game of his pro career, which includes 207 games for the Americans. The third round pick of the Sabres in 2010 has already equaled a career high with six goals on the season, which leads all Rochester defensemen. Matt Garbowsky played in both contests in which the Americans earned at least a point this past week. Garbowsky has now skated in 14 games for the Americans this season, where he has one assist. He also has one goal and two assists in five games for the Jackals. Allan McPherson was recalled by Rochester on Friday, but he did not dress in either game over the weekend. McPherson has played in eight games for the Amerks, while playing in 18 games for the Jackals with nine goals and nine assists. Rochester is now in sixth place in the North Division of the Eastern Conference with a points percentage of 0.500, 30 points, and a 15-15-2-1 record.