BUFFALO – Why not try something different, right? The reeling Sabres have lost five straight games and 33 of their 43 outings this season.
Starting goalie Linus Ullmark tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets is worth a try.
Sabres coach Phil Housley, who criticized his goaltending in Tuesday’s 7-4 loss to Winnipeg, said Ullmark will receive his first NHL nod since last season’s finale.
“We feel that he’s earned a start up here,” Housley said inside KeyBank Center. “He’s had a terrific season down in Rochester, being named an AHL All-Star, and we’re looking for a spark.”
Ullmark, 24, could provide one. The Swede has morphed into perhaps the AHL’s best goalie this season, going 17-5-3 with a 2.28 goals-against average, a .928 save percentage and two shutouts in 26 games with the Americans.
The Sabres said Monday they recalled him as insurance for starter Robin Lehner, who took a puck off the neck Sunday. Housley yanked Lehner from Tuesday’s game.
It’s unclear if Lehner or goalie Chad Johnson will back Ullmark up tonight.
Ullmark played 20 NHL games as a rookie in 2015-16.
In other news, Housley said defenseman Zach Bogosian, who left Wednesday’s practice after his left leg got tangled with winger Evander Kane, is out four to six weeks.
Bogosian can’t catch a break. A lower-body injury sidelined the Massena native the first 25 games this season.
“It’s a tough blow for him, too,” Housley said. “He’s been fighting through injuries this year. It’s difficult.”
Housley said defenseman Justin Falk will replace Bogosian.
To replace center Jacob Josefson (lower body), winger Benoit Pouliot, a healthy scratch two of the last three games, will return. Pouliot practiced at left wing Wednesday beside center Jack Eichel and Kyle Okposo.
“I don’t think I have been playing the way I should be playing,” said Pouliot, who has compiled eight goals and 11 points in 41 games. “In the beginning of the year, I thought I was skating, forechecking, creating chances or turning pucks over. The past few games haven’t been this way for me. That’s all on me.”
Update: Former Amerks goalie David Leggio, a Williamsville native, has been named to Team USA’s Olympic roster for the Pyeongchang Games next month.
Leggio, 33, currently plays for Munich EHC in the German DEL. USA Hockey announced the final roster spots today.
In other Olympic news, Team Canada named former Sabres center Derek Roy and defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani to its roster today. Both currently play in the KHL.