Road to the Show - Twenty-Fourth 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 continued to embrace the role of spoiler last week, taking five of a possible six points. Last Tuesday, in Pittsburgh, the Sabres got off to a great start, jumping out to a 3-0 lead at the end of the first period. Ryan O’Reilly scored his first goal since returning from an injury, which cost him nearly a month of the season. Matt Moulson and Jake McCabe also scored for the Sabres. As great as the first period was, the second period was the complete opposite, as the Sabres surrendered four straight goals, including two shorthanded goals on the same fruitless power play. However, Buffalo responded to the adversity by tying the score in the third, when Zach Bogosian scored on the power play for the Sabres. Rookie defenseman, Casey Nelson had an assist on the GTG, his second of the night, for his first multi-point game as a pro. Nelson has now begun his pro career with a three-game assist streak. Finally, the game progressed into a shootout where Kris Letang and Phil Kessel sealed the win for Pittsburgh. Despite getting only one point, the Sabres showed the resilience, which they have become known for this season.

            On Thursday night, the Sabres defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-1. Johan Larsson and Cal O’Reilly each scored twice for the Sabres. On Cal’s first goal of the night, his brother, Ryan O’ Reilly notched an assist. It was the first time that the siblings combined for a goal in the NHL. It was also the first time that Cal had a two-goal game in the NHL. Chad Johnson made his seventh consecutive start, and made 25 saves to earn the victory. The win was Johnson’s 20th of the year, which improved on what was already an NHL career high.

            On Saturday night, the Sabres spoiled a chance for the New York Rangers to clinch a playoff spot, by defeating them, 4-3. Ryan O’Reilly scored the first two goals of the evening, giving him 20 on the year. He is now the fourth Sabre to crack the 20-goal plateau this season. Zemgus Girgensons and Matt Moulson each scored in the second period, and the Sabres held on, despite a spirited Rangers comeback effort. Chad Johnson made 33 saves to earn the win, in his 100th NHL game, against the team for which he debuted in 2009. Buffalo remains in seventh place in the Atlantic Division with 77 points, and a 33-35-11 record. They do have a chance, with only three games remaining, to end the year at, or above, the .500 mark.

Rochester Americans (AHL) – The Americans had a disappointing week, as they are now only one point away from being mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. After a 1-3-0 week, Rochester is still in fifth place in the North Division of the Eastern Conference with a points percentage of 0.493, 69 points, and a 33-34-2-1 record. The Amerks are 12 points behind the Utica Comets for the final playoff spot in the North Division, with only six games to play. The next time Utica secures a single point, or Rochester fails to win, the Americans will be eliminated from playoff contention.

            Last week began with a crucial clash against the aforementioned Comets, which the Amerks lost, 3-2, in heartbreaking fashion. Justin Bailey and Matt Ellis scored for the Amerks, but the Comets tallied three in the third period, including the game winner with only 56 seconds remaining. Bailey’s goal gave him 40 points on the year, as he became the first Amerk rookie to achieve that mark since Johan Larsson in the 2012-13 season. Linus Ullmark turned in a 33 save performance, but was saddled with the loss.

            On Friday night, the Amerks hosted the Grand Rapids Griffins. The game got off to a good start, as Matt Ellis scored for the second consecutive game. However, the Griffins would roar back and score six straight, to win, 6-1. Cason Hohmann made his AHL debut in the loss. He went on to play all three games for the Americans over the weekend and recorded three shots on goal. He was returned to the Jackals on Monday.

            The Americans won their only game of the weekend, 5-1, in Syracuse, on Saturday night. Spiro Goulakos tallied his first AHL goal, assist, and multi-point game in the contest. He now has those two points in 10 games for the Americans this season. He was also returned to Elmira on Monday. Andrey Makarov was also stellar for Rochester, making a season high, 42 saves to earn the victory. In addition, Justin Bailey continued his torrid stretch, notching two goals in the win, including the game winner.

            On Sunday, the Amerks again battled Grand Rapids, and came up short, falling by the score of 5-2. Justin Kea tallied his first assist as an American this season, finally getting on the scoresheet in his 28th game of the season for Rochester. Andrey Makarov was good in net, turning aside 33 of 37 shots, but the Griffins simply overwhelmed Rochester. Cole Schneider and Alex Guptill, both acquired at the trade deadline from the B-Sens, scored the two Rochester goals.

            Elsewhere in the AHL on Sunday evening, Tyler Currier made his AHL debut with the Springfield Falcons, and he did so in style. The Jackals leading goal scorer tallied a goal and an assist in a 3-1 Falcons victory over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He was also returned to the Jackals on Monday to aid Elmira in their push toward the ECHL playoffs.