Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (UPL) stopped 38 of the 40 shots he faced and Brandon Biro scored the first two goals of his NHL career as the Buffalo Sabres capitalized on their scoring chances in a 5-2 win over the Flyers in Philadelphia.
The Sabres were outshot 40-15 in this game. UPL was very solid in nets, especially in the third period when he faced 20 shots. Offensively, they capitalized on every chance they had, scoring on a third of the shots they put on net. They even had a goal called back.
Aside from Biro’s two goals, Tage Thompson recorded a goal and two assists, Casey Mittelstadt had a goal and an assist and Owen Power scored the winning goal.
One lineup change for the Sabres tonight. With Zach Benson hurt, the team recalled Brandon Biro from Rochester.
Carter Hart vs. UPL started in nets. UPL’s last outing was the 4-0 shutout against the Avs on Sunday.
Jordan Greenway– Tage Thompson – Brandon Biro
Jeff Skinner – Casey Mittelstadt – JJ Peterka
Tyson Jost – Dylan Cozens – Alex Tuch
Zemgus Girgensons – Peyton Krebs – Kyle Okposo
Rasmus Dahlin – Mattias Samuelsson
Owen Power – Henri Jokiharju
Jacob Bryson – Erik Johnson
A period with everything
Just 55 seconds into the game, Joel Farabee scored to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Farabee was coming in on a 2-on-1 and was attempting a pass across, but Henri Jokiharju lunged forward and deflected the puck high past UPL. As a goalie myself, I hate it when my defensemen deflect pucks.
Casey Mittelstadt tied the score at 3:38 on a nice little give-and-go with JJ Peterka. The Sabres entered the Flyers zone on an odd-man rush, Mitts passed to Peterka and Peterka gave it back for a one-time wrist shot. Skinner picked up the second assist.
It looked like the same line capitalized on another odd man rush when Jeff Skinner beat Hart with wrist shot, but the play was determined to be offside.
Then a few seconds later, Brandon Biro scored his first NHL goal at 10:00. Tage Thompson made a nice backhand pass from behind the net and Biro dove to tap the puck past Hart. Thompson and Greenway with the assists.
Hart left the game after that goal with an apparent injury. He was replaced by Samuel Ersson.
The Flyers tied the game at 16:17 on another redirect goal past UPL. This time, it was Cam Atkinson who deflected a Sanheim pass/shot over UPL’s left shoulder.
Period one ended with the teams tied. We had a bit of everything; goals, coach’s challenge and a hurt goalie. Shots in the first period were 10-7 in favor of the Flyers.
After a first period with everything, the second couldn’t have been much duller.
Not much happened in the first half of the period. A couple of shots on each side and a missed powerplay opportunity for each team.
The Flyers came close with about seven minutes to go when they put the puck behind UPL and through the crease.
The Sabres ended the period with 1:30 of powerplay, but they never got organized in the Flyers end.
Shots in the period were 10-4 for the Flyers.
Flyers strong, but UPL better
Owen Power put the Sabres in the lead at 3:03 as he ripped a wrist shot off the post to Ersson’s left for his first goal of the season. Tage Thompson carried the puck over the line, gave it to Power, who did the rest. Thompson and Tuch had the assists.
The Flyers buzzed around the Buffalo zone as they tried to even up the game, but UPL was solid.
Tage Thompson made it 4-2 at 13:28 when he picked the top corner from the circle. He took a nice pass from Alex Tuch and roofed his shot past Ersson.
The Flyers pulled their goalie with 3:52 left in the period. But with 3:08 to go, Brandon Biro scored his second of the night. He took a nice pass from Mittelstadt to skate in alone on the empty net. Peyton Krebs had the second assist.
Shots in the third were 20-4 for the Flyers and 40-15 for the game.
- I’m not sure this formula will work often, but the Sabres capitalized on every chance they had and relied on their goaltender to do the rest. The Sabres owe these two points to UPL. He was very poised in his net. These last two games, he’s looked like the goalie we all want him to be… solid, big goalie who uses his size to take away the net. Well done!
- This game was almost like a throwback to the late 90’s when Dominik Hasek would steal a game after game facing 40 shots. I’m not saying UPL played like Hasek; it just brought back memories of being outplayed and yet still winning.
- Bravo to Brandon Biro who notched the first two goals of his NHL career. He definitely didn’t look out of place playing with Thompson and Greenway.
- The Biro recall and his insertion right onto Tage Thompson’s line says a lot about what the team is thinking about Victor Olofsson. Here’s a guy who scored 28 goals in the NHL last year, and the team would rather call up someone from the AHL than play Olofsson. I can’t say I disagree. The big issue with Olofsson is that he’s a defensive liability and he tends to disappear for several games at a time.
- So, Zach Benson is hurt on a week-to-week basis. As I mentioned in my recap from last game, I feel he needs to add more strength before he can be productive in the NHL. This break will allow him recover from his injury, go for a conditioning stint in Rochester and then maybe join the Canadian World Junior team. Then they can decide if he comes back to Buffalo or plays out the season in junior.
- After what happened in the UK this week, it was good to see some players wearing some neck protection, including Rasmus Dahlin.
Catch up on all the Sabres results and upcoming schedule here.