Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen looked strong in his NHL debut Friday. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres should keep playing goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

BUFFALO – Get this straight: Sabres goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen isn’t ready for regular NHL duty.

In the coming weeks or at the beginning of next season, he will likely return to Rochester, where he can carry the load for the Americans and keep developing.

Luukkonen looked terrific for most of his NHL debut, stopping 36 shots in Friday’s 6-4 win over the Boston Bruins. But he needs more seasoning. The Sabres’ top goalie prospect has ... Read the full article

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

Buffalo drafted Matej Pekar in the fourth round in 2018. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Sabres prospect Matej Pekar uses fight with Amerks to generate confidence

BUFFALO – Sabres prospect Matej Pekar wanted to agitate Brett Gallant, so as they awaited a faceoff at center ice, he bumped into the AHL’s premier tough guy.

Gallant, of course, retaliated, cross-checking Pekar near his neck. A second later, Pekar, a rookie forward with the Americans, dropped the gloves for the first time as a pro.

Meanwhile, Gallant, a veteran with the Cleveland Monsters, registered his 107th AHL fight, according to hockeyfights.com.

It ... 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

Jack Quinn played 15 games this season. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Sabres prospect Jack Quinn showcased growth before season-ending surgery

BUFFALO – Before Sabres prospect Jack Quinn left the Rochester Americans earlier this week to undergo season-ending hernia surgery, coach Seth Appert said the rookie’s teammates gravitated to him and wanted to say goodbye.

In a normal year, Quinn, the eighth overall pick in 2020, wouldn’t have been eligible to play in the AHL. But the Ontario Hockey League’s COVID-19 pause created a unique opportunity for teenagers like Quinn to develop against men in ... 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

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