Game 9: The ideal victory
The Sabres' best effort so far this season results in a 4-0 win against Colorado and earns Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen his first NHL shutout.
BUFFALO — So much of everything that surrounded the Buffalo Sabres heading into Sunday’s matchup against the Colorado Avalanche wreaked of negative vibes despite evidence in their play that things are better than their results.
The tough loss in New Jersey on Friday left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth, a lot of that thanks to the forever-in-the-gray way penalties are decided, particularly ones that are supposedly automatic. There was the lower-body injury to goalie Eric Comrie that will have him out week-to-week with MRI results to come that forced Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen into action late in that game and into the No. 1 position with Devon Levi still off the ice with a lower-body issue.
Mix in Connor Clifton’s earned two-game suspension for delivering an illegal check to the head of Devils captain Nico Hischier and Jacob Bryson getting into the lineup for the first time this season along with three totally new forward lines and…yeah, there were reasons to be skeptical of the outcome.
Instead, Luukkonen delivered 24 saves in his first career NHL shutout, the Sabres put four goals on the board against the Avalanche and gave them their second loss of the season in a 4-0 outcome at home.
“We’re getting to our game,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “I felt we’re nine games in now and it’s probably not good of me to say we haven’t gotten to our game when you think of nine games in, but our attention has been diverted to probably last season and some of the things we perceive that might have been our doom and buttoning up in certain areas. And when your intention goes to that—with the intensity that we’ve had to do that—you can lose yourself and what you’re actually good at. But that push has been good.
“I think our guys have taken those things to heart and will continue to develop in the areas that we need to as we’ve laid it out, and I think we’re starting to get a little bit more comfortable with that where we can now move back to our game. But we need to be a high-tempo team and we just haven’t been able to do that lately. Tonight was a good game to get that feel back and obviously we want that to continue.”
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