Road to the Show - Twenty-First 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 played in three tight games over the past week, emerging with a victory in only one of them. Buffalo took a four-game point streak into a meeting with the New York Rangers, on Tuesday night, but were defeated 4-2. The Rangers jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but the Sabres battled back with goals from Sam Reinhart and Johan Larsson to close to within one. Reinhart’s 19 goals tie him for second on the club, as the young center continues to compile impressive numbers in his rookie campaign. Chad Johnson stopped all 11 shots he faced, in relief, but the Sabres could not get the game-tying-goal past a brilliant Antti Raanta, who made 34 saves, including 19 in the third period, to earn the win for New York.

On Thursday night, the Sabres visited the Montreal Canadiens, and were bested 3-2. Robin Lehner had a good bounce back performance, stopping 31 shots, but he was saddled with the loss. Nicolas Deslauriers gave the Sabres the lead in the second period, before Alex Galchenyuk scored twice to give the Canadiens a lead going into the third period. Buffalo captain, Brian Gionta scored to tie the game up early in the third. Gionta has quietly put together a nine goal, 17 assist season. His 26 points rank sixth on the team. His leadership as the captain during the rebuilding process has also been of paramount importance to the team. Unfortunately, former Sabre, Torrey Mitchell spoiled Buffalo’s comeback effort with a late third period goal, giving Montreal a 3-2 win.

On Saturday afternoon, the Sabres were able to play the role of spoiler, defeating the Carolina Hurricanes, 3-2, in overtime. Chad Johnson made 28 saves to earn the win. Johnson is 4-0-0 in his last five appearances, with a 2.14 goals-against-average, and .922 save percentage. Johnson has continued to play well in whatever role he has served this season, becoming a valuable member of the Sabres organizational goaltending depth chart. Jack Eichel was the offensive story of the game for Buffalo, scoring twice, including the game-winning-goal with one second remaining in overtime on a breakaway. He has a team leading 22 goals on the year, and in now within one point of team leading Ryan O’Reilly, who returned to practice this week. Following a highly competitive week, the Sabres remain in seventh place in the Atlantic Division with 65 points, and a 28-33-9 record.

Rochester Americans (AHL) – The Americans finally ended their pattern of alternating good and bad weeks, by winning two of three games this past weekend. The Americans defeated the Utica Comets on Friday night, thanks to 30 saves by Linus Ullmark. It was one of Ullmark’s best performances since returning to the Amerks from Buffalo. New addition, Eric O’Dell tallied a point in his third straight game, getting the Americans on the board early. Justin Bailey, recently sent back to Rochester from Buffalo, himself, scored what would prove to be the game winner. The rookie from Williamsville has 12 goals and 19 assists for the Americans in his first professional campaign, as well as eight games played for the Sabres.

On Saturday night, the Amerks extended their winning streak to four games, a season high, with a 7-4 win in Syracuse. The Amerks fell into a 2-0 hole, but were able to dig themselves out, with the help of a season high, five-goal third period. Thirteen different Americans recorded at least one point, including a three assist night for Brady Austin. Austin, a seventh-round draft pick by the Sabres in 2012, has already exceeded expectations for someone drafted so late. His three assists were a career high. In his second season with the Amerks, Austin has two goals, six assists, and a plus-6 rating, which ranks third on the team. Austin did appear in one game for the Jackals last season, while he spent most of his rookie season with Rochester.

Rochester’s four-game winning streak came to a screeching halt with a 6-1 loss against Binghamton. Former Jackal Chris Driedger made 30 saves to earn the win for the B-Sens, while Nick Tuzzolino and Guillaume Lepine each posted a plus-1 rating and one shot on goal. Another former Jackal, Justin Kea appeared in all three games over the weekend for the Amerks engaging in a fight with former Edmonton Oiler, Zack Stortini in Sunday’s loss. With two more wins, Rochester has clawed even closer to a playoff spot. They are still in fourth place in the North Division of the Eastern Conference with a points percentage of 0.525, 63 points, and a 30-27-2-1 record. The Americans are only four points behind the Portland Pirates, who currently own the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Elsewhere in the AHL, former Jackal, Niklas Lundstrom made his first appearances in the Edmonton organization following his trade from St. Louis. He started three games for the Bakersfield Condors, posting a 1-0-2 record, 3.85 GAA, and .878 SV %, in his first starts since January, when he was a member of the Chicago Wolves. Lundstrom earned his first win as a Condor with a 31 save performance on Saturday against the San Jose Barracuda.