Eric Comrie enjoyed a strong preseason. ©2023, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres goalie Eric Comrie to start first game; Devon Levi, Zach Benson out

BUFFALO – Even if Sabres rookie Devon Levi felt 100 percent, goalie Eric Comrie likely would’ve earned tonight’s start against the New York Islanders.

Levi, 21, played the first four games, a heavy workload for a youngster. He struggled a bit in Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames, allowing a weak go-ahead goal as the Sabres fell to 1-3-0.

Sooner or later, Comrie or Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who have been alternating as the backup, needed to play.

Comrie, 28, enjoyed a strong preseason, posting a .920 save percentage in two outings.

“I did a really good job of just executing my game plan and just letting the game come to me and not really chasing it,” Comrie said this morning in KeyBank Center of his exhibition appearances.

When the Sabres carried three goalies last season, Comrie played well despite receiving limited action. He ended the campaign winning five of seven games from Jan. 26 to March 7. In his only regulation loss during that stretch, he allowed 10 goals. In his next start, he shut out the Islanders.

Levi and rookie winger Zach Benson, both of whom missed Friday’s practice with lower-body injuries, participated in the Sabres’ optional skate but will miss tonight’s game.

“They’re both a little bit sore,” Sabres coach Don Granato said.

With Benson sidelined, winger Victor Olofsson will be moving back in after sitting out two games as a scratch.

Granato will likely use the new lines he showcased Friday. He said the Sabres “absolutely need to get out of our heads a little bit and just play.”

“We did not look and play the style we have played to our identity yet this year,” he said. “And you ask yourself as a coach what are the reasons that could be contributing to this? Yeah, we’ve shifted focus on some things and you guys know specifically defending things like the penalty kill. We’re getting results where we’ve shifted focus, but have we overlooked playing more to our identity trying to build and add to what we didn’t have a year ago? And how much is that pulling guys out of their rhythm and stuff?”

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