Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 36 saves Friday. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen shines in NHL debut, helps Sabres beat Bruins

BUFFALO – Sabres goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen looked a little wonky early in his NHL debut, allowing a goal on the first shot he faced barely two minutes into the game. Later in the period, the Boston Bruins hit two goal posts.

But Luukkonen, 22, enjoyed plenty of help for much of Friday’s 6-4 win, allowing him to settle in and grow more comfortable as the night progressed inside KeyBank Center.

The Sabres stymied Boston’s offense ... Read the full article

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has dressed as backup the last two games. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Excitement accompanies Sabres goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s first start

Right now, the Buffalo Sabres need top goalie prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark are injured. Dustin Tokarski, who played in Thursday’s 5-1 loss to the Boston Bruins, started back-to-back games earlier this week. He can’t go again tonight against Boston inside KeyBank Center.

The Sabres’ only other goalie on an NHL contract, Michael Houser, has spent most of his career in the ECHL.

They’re out of options, so Luukkonen, ... Read the full article

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (pictured) will back up Dustin Tokarski again tonight. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to start Friday; Sabres to make lineup change

Top Buffalo Sabres goalie prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen will start his first NHL game Friday against the Boston Bruins, coach Don Granato said this morning.

Dustin Tokarski will play tonight versus the Bruins at KeyBank Center, giving Luukkonen, 22, another opportunity to watch a game from the bench as a backup.

The Finn dressed for his first NHL contest Tuesday, a 2-0 loss to the Bruins.

“It’s better for UPL to see one more night,” Granato ... Read the full article

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has spent this season developing in Rochester. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen thrilled for first opportunity with Sabres

BUFFALO – Not since Ryan Miller arrived here in 2002 has a goaltender’s debut been so highly anticipated. After less than two seasons in the minors, top Sabres goalie prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is verge of starting his first NHL game.

Luukkonen, of course, likely won’t stick in the big leagues for long. Most goalies take years to mature, and the Finn, 22, has only played 25 AHL games.

Just look at Miller, the Sabres’ all-time ... Read the full article

Will Borgen was injured Feb. 20. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres notes: Will Borgen nearing return, close to becoming NHL regular

BUFFALO – When Sabres defenseman Will Borgen blocked a shot with his right forearm Feb. 20 in New Jersey, he had no idea it had been fractured.

“They just kind of stitched it up because it was bleeding a little bit,” Borgen said on a Zoom call prior to Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to the Boston Bruins. “I didn’t have an excuse to not play at the time.”

So Borgen, 24, finished the Sabres’ 3-2 win ... Read the full article

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has played 14 games for Rochester this season. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Sabres goalie prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen ready for chance in NHL

BUFFALO – Forget about goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s last six outings, Rochester Americans coach Seth Appert said.

Yes, Luukkonen, 22, has looked sloppy at times since the Amerks’ COVID-19 pause ended late last month, compiling a 2-3-1 record and an awful .863 save percentage.

But a lot of players struggle after being forced to sit idle. Luukkonen did not play for three weeks.

Appert believes Luukkonen’s early-season exploits and the strong habits he has developed illustrate ... Read the full article

Dustin Tokarski made 34 saves Sunday afternoon. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Goalie Dustin Tokarski looks sharp with little rest, helps Sabres beat Penguins

BUFFALO – Having played goalie into his mid-teens before switching to forward, interim Sabres coach Don Granato possesses a strong understanding of the unique position.

Granato knows the strain of playing back-to-back days often affects the goalie’s focus and other subtleties in his game. He might, for example, have trouble playing his angles or handling rebounds.

But in Sunday afternoon’s 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, goalie Dustin Tokarski looked sharper than he did a ... Read the full article

Mattias Samuelsson was recalled Sunday. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres prospect Mattias Samuelsson looks impressive in NHL debut

BUFFALO – A month ago, recalling defenseman Mattias Samuelsson and giving one of their top prospects a taste of the NHL wasn’t an option for the Sabres.

They were in the midst of their marathon 18-game winless skid, and the defense corps, like every aspect of the team, was struggling. They couldn’t expose a rookie to that environment.

But the defense has been thriving under interim coach Don Granato and interim assistant Dan Girardi, ... Read the full article

Mattias Samuelsson was a second-round pick in 2018. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Sabres recall Mattias Samuelsson from Amerks, make other moves

BUFFALO – The Sabres this afternoon recalled defenseman Mattias Samuelsson, one of their top prospects, from the Rochester Americans.

Samuelsson, 21, will make his NHL debut this afternoon against the Pittsburgh Penguins at KeyBank Center.

General manager Kevyn Adams and interim coach Don Granato have said they plan to give some of the organizations prospects a taste of the NHL over the final few weeks this season.... Read the full article

Tage Thompson has scored five times in the last nine games. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Tage Thompson, Sabres’ other young players grab starring roles

BUFFALO – The Sabres are finally playing meaningful late-season games.

Of course, the outcomes won’t affect the standings. Saturday afternoon’s 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins officially eliminated them from the postseason for a record-tying 10th consecutive season.

Still, the final weeks of this campaign will shape the Sabres’ future. Interim coach Don Granato has handed the keys over to some of his young players, and so far, they’ve seized their opportunities.

On Saturday, for ... Read the full article