Road to the Show - Thirteenth 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 enjoyed their most successful week in some time, winning three out of four games this past week. It began with the successful culmination of a three-game road trip, as the Sabres defeated the Wild, 3-2, in St. Paul. Buffalo scored all three goals in the first period, including two in a twenty second span to stun Minnesota, and jump out to a 3-0 lead. Linus Ullmark made 28 saves to earn the victory for the Sabres, his seventh of the season. The 22-year-old Swede was not expected to see much NHL action this season, but Ullmark played well in the absence of Robin Lehner. Ullmark went 7-10-2 for the Sabres with a 2.58 goals-against-average and .915 save percentage. He gave Buffalo a chance to win nearly every game he started, and that is all anyone can ask of a starting goaltender, especially one who showed such promise at such a young age.

On Friday night, the Sabres suffered a 4-1 setback at the hands of the Boston Bruins. Despite the loss, the game was important for the Sabres as Robin Lehner played his first game for Buffalo since leaving the October 8, season opener with an injury over three months ago. The 24-year-old Swede was one of Buffalo’s prized offseason acquisitions, as he was sent to the Sabres from Ottawa for a first round draft pick. With that kind of price, the expectations for Lehner were high. At the age of 24, Lehner has played in 88 NHL games already, over the course of six seasons. He has a 30-37-13 career record with a 2.88 GAA and .914 SV %. He will be looking to get his first victory as a Sabre in his next start.

On Saturday night, the NHL’s best team, the Washington Capitals, paid a visit to the First Niagara Center, and the Sabres recorded one of their most impressive wins of the year, 4-1. Two recent call-ups from the Americans helped the Sabres take the lead as Phil Varone and Tim Schaller each scored their first NHL goals of the season in the first period. Evander Kane and Cody Franson tacked on two more goals in the second period as the Sabres earned the important two points. Chad Johnson played extremely well for the Sabres in goal. The sometimes forgotten man in the Sabres goaltending trio, Johnson has posted a 12-12-2 record with a 2.36 GAA and .920 SV %. Like Ullmark, Johnson has kept the Sabres in almost every game, which is all the more remarkable because he has already appeared in a career high 28 games this season. Expected to be the back-up at the outset of the season, Johnson has thrived with the extra work, which allowed the Sabres organization time to allow Lehner to fully heal before reinserting him into Buffalo’s goal crease.

Finally, last night, the Sabres embarked on a brief two-game road trip by paying a visit to the Arizona Coyotes. The Sabres emerged with a 2-1 victory thanks to power play goals by Jack Eichel and Jamie McGinn. Both goals were assisted by Rasmus Ristolainen. The 21-year-old Finn continues to have a breakout season for the Sabres. He leads the team with 23 assists and is tied for seventh among all NHL defensemen in that category. He is also tied for eighth among NHL defensemen with 31 points. He is arguably one of the biggest All-Star snubs in the NHL. Following a good week, the Sabres have moved back into seventh place in the Atlantic Division with 42 points, and a 19-23-4 record. They are eight points behind Montreal for the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

Rochester Americans (AHL) – Rochester’s inconsistency continued this past week as the Americans lost three out of four contests this past week. The Amerks had a hard time finding the back of the net, scoring only three goals in four games. Robin Lehner’s final rehab start with Rochester took place on Wednesday, in Albany, as the Devils shut out the Americans, 4-0. Lehner made 35 saves, but Albany completely dominated the game, as the Amerks managed to fire only 19 shots on Scott Wedgewood, who recorded his first shutout of the year for the Devils.

The weekend brought a home-and-home with the Binghamton Senators. On Friday night, the Americans welcomed the Senators to Blue Cross Arena, but the returning Linus Ullmark fared no better than the departing Lehner, as the Amerks were again shut out, 4-0. Scott Greenham, who played for the Jackals in 2013-14, made 33 saves to earn his first shutout of the season for the Senators. The Amerks finally broke the goal scoring drought on Saturday night, as Rochester defeated the Senators, 2-1, in Binghamton. Dan Catenacci and Jerome Leduc each scored on the power play in the second period, while Nathan Lieuwen made 22 saves to earn the victory for the Americans.

Yesterday afternoon, Rochester’s week wrapped up with a hard fought 2-1 loss in Syracuse. Justin Bailey scored for the Americans and Nathan Lieuwen made 28 saves, but it was not enough. Jackals’ alum, Justin Kea played in all four games for the Americans this week. He engaged in fisticuffs on Wednesday night, in Albany. He has played 10 games for the Amerks this season, with 22 penalty minutes. In 17 games for the Jackals, Kea has four goals and two assists. Fellow Jackals’ alum, Allan McPherson played in three games for the Americans this week. He has now played in 13 games for Rochester this year. In 18 games for the Jackals, McPherson has nine goals and nine assists. Another recent call-up from Elmira, Spiro Goulakos played in two games for the Americans this week, bringing his season total to three AHL games. Goulakos has five goals and 14 assists for the Jackals, in 32 games. Finally, elsewhere in the AHL, Niklas Lundstrom made his first appearance of the season for the Chicago Wolves, stopping all 11 shots he faced on Saturday night, against the Lake Erie Monsters. Lundstrom posted an 8-3-0-0 record for the Jackals in 13 games this season, with a 2.92 GAA and .929 SV %. Rochester is still in sixth place in the North Division of the Eastern Conference with a points percentage of 0.487, 36 points, and a 18-19-2-1 record.