The Luukkonen Trip
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen followed his outstanding win against Colorado with an unreal performance against Vegas and his emergence is steadying the Sabres
LAS VEGAS — All season long, fans have been waiting impatiently for Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to show why the Buffalo Sabres have been so patient with his development and that it was for a good reason. The two starts he made during their unbeaten three-game road trip in shutting down the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights might just be enough to win over naysayers.
Luukkonen made 41 saves in helping the Sabres take down Vegas 3-2 on Monday night, but it was the quality of the stops he made in the most dangerous of situations that tell the story.
Luukkonen stopped breakaways from William Karlsson and Mark Stone as well as a penalty shot from Jonathan Marchesseault. He stymied Reilly Smith on what looked like it would be a money goal on a cross slot pass he tracked to the far post. The goals he did allow, a mini-break from Chandler Stephenson and a 6-on-5 goal by Smith with just over two minutes to play, were the only dents on what was a highlight reel night in goal.
You have to be dialed in to deny multiple breakaways and a penalty shot in a game. It also proves to be a serious test of how a goalie can handle an assortment of high-pressure situations in an instant. If you were wondering, penalty shots aren’t any easier to deal with after handling breakaways beforehand.
“It’s a whole different setup because of the speed,” Luukkonen said. “You don’t want to make the first move; a player has all of the options on a penalty shot rather than a breakaway because on a breakaway he might be pushed to the side, or he has somebody backchecking him. I think all the options are, especially on the penalty shot, on the player so you can’t really make the first move in those.”
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