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) – Following a California road trip, which saw the Sabres play well, but not get rewarded with many points, Buffalo took six out of a possible eight points in four games this week, earning at least one point in each game. It is the fourth time this season that the Sabres have taken points in four straight, and they will look to extend the streak to five, for the first time this year.
Last Tuesday, the NHL got its first glimpse of Connor McDavid vs. Jack Eichel, the top two picks of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. McDavid was injured when the two teams met in Edmonton, in December, but he did not disappoint in this game. McDavid scored both goals in a 2-1 Edmonton victory, in overtime. Eichel did play well for the Sabres, leading the team with five shots on goal, but he was held off the scoresheet. Robin Lehner was the best Sabre on the ice, stopping 39 of 41 shots. Cal O’Reilly, recently called up from Rochester after his brother’s injury, scored his first goal of the year for the Sabres to send the game into overtime, ensuring Buffalo one point.
On Thursday night, the Sabres welcomed the Calgary Flames to the First Niagara Center, and handily defeated them, 6-3. Buffalo used three goals in the second period, and three more in the third to pull away from Calgary, late. Four different Sabres had multi-point games, including a three-point game for Marcus Foligno. Evander Kane had a goal and an assist, while Brian Gionta and Zach Bogosian each registered two helpers. Johan Larsson netted the game winner for Buffalo. While he only has five goals this season, three have been game winners, which puts him in a tie for the team lead. Robin Lehner made 26 saves to earn the win.
The Minnesota Wild came to town for a Saturday afternoon matinee, and defeated the Sabres 3-2, in a shootout. Jack Eichel’s game continues to improve, especially since Ryan O’Reilly was knocked out of the lineup. Even with opposing teams focusing their attention on stopping Eichel, the nineteen-year-old continues to produce. Eichel had a goal and an assist, while Johan Larsson scored for the second straight game. However, the Wild tied the game late in the third period, and former Buffalo captain, Jason Pominville won it for Minnesota in a shootout. Rasmus Ristolainen had an assist in the game, as he continues to put together a solid campaign for the Sabres. His 28 assists rank second on the team, and his 37 points are tied for eighteenth among NHL defensemen.
Last night, the Sabres were able to overcome a tough start, and defeat the Maple Leafs, 4-3 in a shootout. Buffalo trailed 3-1 going into the third period, but battled back to claim the two points. Mark Pysyk scored his first goal of the year for the Sabres in the second period. In the third, Jack Eichel scored in his third straight game. He became the youngest Sabres player to ever hit the 20 goal mark, as Eichel was nine days younger than Pierre Turgeon, when he picked up his twentieth goal, in January of 1989. Eichel’s 20 goals are also good for the team lead. After Eichel brought the Sabres within one, Evander Kane tied the score with his nineteenth goal, which ranks second on the team. In the shootout, Sam Reinhart was the only player to find the back of the net, which capped off a two-assist night for the young rookie. Chad Johnson made 30 saves to earn his third win in as many starts. Following a successful week, the Sabres remain in seventh place in the Atlantic Division with 63 points, and a 27-31-9 record. While the Sabres are still 12 points out of a playoff position, they have already eclipsed last season’s point total.
Rochester Americans (AHL) – The pattern of alternating good and bad stretches of play continued, as the Americans won both of their contests over the weekend, scoring 11 goals in the process. Rochester tied a season high with seven goals on Friday night, defeating the Springfield Falcons, 7-3 at Blue Cross Arena. The game was knotted at two, late in the second period, when Rochester exploded for five consecutive goals in a 14 minute span. By the end of the night, 14 of 18 skaters had registered at least one point for the Amerks. Eric O’Dell had two goals, Cole Schneider had three assists, Michael Sdao had two assists, and Alex Guptill had a goal, all in their first game for Rochester after being traded by Binghamton. Chad Ruhwedel also tallied two goals, while Evan Rodrigues had three assists. Nathan Lieuwen stopped 26 saves to earn the victory.
The following night, the Amerks broke a 12-game losing streak to the AHL’s best team, the Toronto Marlies, ending a drought that stretched back to December, 2014. William Carrier scored twice, including the game winner, while Cole Schneider scored his first goal as an American. The story of the game was the stellar play of Linus Ullmark, who stopped 40 of 42 shots, to earn his first win since a 51 save performance on February, 20, against Syracuse. Former Jackal, Justin Kea played in the game, registering one shot on goal and a plus-1 rating. Following a successful week, Rochester has climbed back into fourth place in the North Division of the Eastern Conference with a points percentage of 0.518, 59 points, and a 28-26-2-1 record. The Americans are nine points behind the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who currently own the final playoff spot, with two games-in-hand.