Road to the Show - Sixteenth 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 built off their win before the All-Star break and took four out of a possible six points this week. On Wednesday night, the Sabres defeated the Canadiens 4-2 at the Bell Centre thanks to 33 saves by Robin Lehner, and three third period goals to erase a 2-1 deficit. Jamie McGinn scored his eleventh goal of the season to tie the game, and Johan Larsson scored his second to give the Sabres the lead. While Larsson’s offensive production has been down a bit from last year, both of his goals this season have been game winners. Perhaps just as important as the victory was that Sam Reinhart, Nicolas Deslauriers, and Josh Gorges all returned from various injuries. The Sabres are now probably the healthiest they have been all season.

The following night, the Sabres were back at it again, losing to the Bruins, 3-2, in a shootout. Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart scored for Buffalo, to give the Sabres a 2-0 lead. However, Boston was able to get two pucks past Chad Johnson, who did make 31 saves in the contest. In the shootout, the Bruins scored the only goal to earn the win. The primary reason for optimism in the game for the Sabres was the continued resurgence of Evander Kane. Kane, who missed ten games for the Sabres earlier in the year, due to injury, has crawled his way into fourth on the team with 12 goals, scoring four in the last nine games. He also put a season high 11 shots on goal against the Bruins, almost 40 percent of the team’s total.

On Saturday, Buffalo travelled to Boston, and were again able to secure a point, as the Bruins won 2-1 in overtime. The game featured a goaltending duel between Robin Lehner, who made 36 saves for the Sabres, and Tuukka Rask, who made 37 saves for the Bruins. Unfortunately for Lehner and the Sabres, he could not stop a Brad Marchand penalty shot in overtime, the first such goal in the 90-plus year history of the Boston Bruins. Despite the loss, Lehner has continued to improve every game since coming back from the injury, which cost him half the season. He is 2-0-1 in the last three starts, with a 1.99 goals-against-average, and a .945 save percentage. To put Lehner’s recent numbers into perspective, Petr Mrazek leads the NHL, among qualifying goaltenders with a 1.97 GAA and .933 SV %.

The Sabres lone goal of the contest came from Sam Reinhart. It is the first time the 20-year-old center has scored in consecutive NHL games. He now has 14 goals on the season, which ranks third on the team. He is also tied for the team lead with three game-winning goals. Buffalo has now taken at least one point in each of their last four games, however, the Sabres remain in seventh place in the Atlantic Division with 48 points, and a 21-26-6 record.

Rochester Americans (AHL) – The Americans returned from the All-Star break and won both of their games this week, inching closer to playoff contention. On Friday night, the Amerks won a wild, 5-4 game in Syracuse. Rochester allowed two separate two-goal leads to disappear, but they were still able to win the game. William Carrier opened the scoring for the Amerks, and later tallied two assists. The three-point game was Carrier’s second of the season for Rochester. The last remaining player in the Sabres’ organization, who was acquired in the Ryan Miller trade, Carrier has five goals and 13 assists for Rochester this season. His 18 points tie him for fifth on the Americans, and he leads the team with a plus-10 rating. Tim Schaller and Justin Bailey each also had multi-point games, while Evan Rodrigues scored the game winner with under six minutes remaining in the game. Linus Ullmark made 39 saves to earn the win for the Amerks, his third win in his last four starts.

The following night, Rochester avenged last week’s defeat at the hands of the Senators, with a 4-0 victory in Binghamton. Nathan Lieuwen made 23 saves to earn his second shutout in his last three starts. Justin Bailey scored twice and tacked on an assist for Rochester, his first three-point game as a pro. He now has points in three straight games, with five goals and six assists in his last eight games, making him the hottest player on the team. With his recent scoring outburst, Bailey is now second on the team with ten goals this season. Tim Schaller scored the first goal of the game, and eventual game winner. He now has points in eight straight games for the Americans with four goals and five assists, with all four goals coming since he was recalled from a stint with the Sabres, which took place in the middle of his current AHL point streak. William Carrier recorded two assists in the game, his second straight multi-point game.

Jackals’ alum, Justin Kea played in both games for the Amerks, recording a fight in each game. He is still looking for his first point of the year for Rochester, though he does have six fighting majors in only 14 games for the Amerks this season. Another recent Jackal, Spiro Goulakos played in Rochester’s Friday night tilt. He has also gone pointless in eight contests for the Americans this year. Elsewhere, Niklas Lundstrom appeared in his fourth game for the Chicago Wolves this season, entering Saturday’s game against the Iowa Wild in relief. Lundstrom stopped 12 of 13 shots he faced in 43 minutes, but the damage had already been done by the Wild, as Lundstrom’s Wolves lost 5-1. Lundstrom has a 1-1-0 record in four appearances with Chicago with a 2.75 GAA and .901 SV %. Following a successful two-game road trip, Rochester has moved into fourth place in the North Division of the Eastern Conference with a points percentage of 0.521, 49 points, and a 23-21-2-1 record. They are only one point behind Utica for the final playoff spot, though the Comets do have two games-in-hand.