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 enjoyed their finest week of the young season, winning three out of four games, climbing to within three points of the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference. Buffalo began the week on Tuesday in Philadelphia with an exciting 4-3 overtime victory against the Flyers. It was the Sabres’ first road win of the season. 21 year-old Latvian, Zemgus Girgensons, the leading vote getter for the 2015 NHL All-Star Game, scored his first goal of the season on a breakaway to earn Buffalo the hard fought victory.
The Sabres carried the momentum with them to Pittsburgh on Thursday, when only a superhuman effort by Penguins’ goalie Jeff Zatkoff denied the Sabres the win. Buffalo recorded a season high 53 shots on goal, the most shots the Sabres have had in a game since October 13, 2007, but fell to Pittsburgh 4-3. Jamie McGinn scored in his second straight game, while Ryan O’Reilly and Rasmus Ristolainen recorded two assists apiece.
Not to be deterred, the Sabres responded to the tough loss by defeating the Flyers for the second time in four nights on Friday. Rookie goaltender, Linus Ullmark earned the first victory of his NHL career by turning aside 27 of 28 Philadelphia shots. Ryan O’Reilly played a part in all three Sabres goals, scoring the game winner himself, and assisting on the other two. O’Reilly leads the Sabres with nine assists and 13 points, and is tied for the team lead with four goals. He has also already notched four multi-point games, which also leads the team.
Buffalo ended the week on Sunday with their inaugural visit to the Barclays Center. The Sabres used two third period goals and 29 saves by Linus Ullmark to earn a come from behind, 2-1 victory over the Islanders. The 22 year-old Swede posted his second consecutive victory, the first time Buffalo has won back to back games this season. Ullmark now has a 2-1-0 record with the Sabres, a 2.02 goals-against-average, and .930 save percentage, after beginning the season in Rochester. The second overall selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Sam Reinhart scored his first career game winning goal late in the third period to help the Sabres cap the impressive comeback. Buffalo is currently in seventh place in the Atlantic Division with 10 points, and a 5-7-0 record.
Rochester Americans (AHL) – The Americans played three games, in as many nights, in as many cities, this past weekend, and they came out on top, in two of the three contests. The weekend got off to an inauspicious start, as the Amerks were bested in Springfield by a score of 6-1 on Friday night. However, Rochester responded well to the adversity by posting consecutive one goal wins over Portland and Hartford on Saturday and Sunday.
2011 sixth round pick, Nathan Lieuwen posted 37 saves for his second win of the season, as the Amerks defeated the Pirates 4-3 on Saturday afternoon. Lieuwen is looking to bounce back from an injury plagued 2014-15 season, and return to his Amerks Rookie of the Year, 2013-14 form that earned him a five-game call-up with the Sabres. He is currently 3-1-0 for Rochester on the young season with a brief stint as the backup in Buffalo. The Amerks also enjoyed a two goal game from alternate captain, Phil Varone, who leads Rochester with five goals on the season. The Americans also received a career high, three point game from 20 year-old, William Carrier, whose rights were acquired from St. Louis as a part of the Ryan Miller trade in 2014. Carrier will look to build on his rookie season, in which he scored seven goals and 14 assists for the Amerks.
On Sunday evening, in Hartford, Rochester closed out their road trip with a 3-2 win over the Wolfpack. Captain Cal O’Reilly, Ryan O’Reilly’s older brother, tallied a goal and an assist to lead the Americans to the victory. Nathan Lieuwen posted 22 saves, including stopping the penalty shot of former Pittsburgh Penguin, Jayson Megna, late in the third period, to earn his second win in as many nights. Jackals call ups, Allan McPherson and Matt Garbowsky both played in all three games over the weekend. McPherson has registered six shots on goal in six games with the Amerks, while Garbowsky has notched three shots on goal in four contests. Rochester is currently in fifth place in the North Division of the Eastern Conference with a points percentage of 0.500, 10 points, and a 5-5-0 record.