Ullmark shines as Sabres sting Blue Jackets


Linus Ullmark made 44 saves in his first NHL action of the 2017-18 season and the Buffalo Sabres took down the Columbus Blue Jackets by a 3-1 final Thursday night in Buffalo.

Ullmark, recalled from the AHL on Monday, fell 6:15 short of his first career shutout but was otherwise outstanding on a night where he saw a legion of shots coming his way.

None of the 24 year-old netminder’s stops may have been better than a pad save at the end of the initial period to keep Buffalo’s one-goal lead intact. After a barrage of Columbus shots, David Savard centered the puck in front of the net to winger Matt Calvert. The former fifth-round pick got the pass and tried to push it across the line, but Ullmark extended his right pad to take away the opportunity and keep Columbus off the board.

Benoit Pouliot’s ninth score of the season opened the scoring a little more than halfway through the opening period. Columbus failed to clear its own end and Kyle Okposo shimmied the puck down to Jack Eichel on the right wing. The first-time NHL All-Star returned it to Okposo in the slot who fired a shot on target. Pouliot was camped in front of the net and chipped the rebound past Sergei Bobrovsky for a 1-0 Sabres lead. Eichel’s assist was his 16th point in his last 11 games games played.

Kyle Okposo scored one of the easier goals of his career to extend the Buffalo advantage to 2-0 at the 12:42 mark of the 3rd period. Evander Kane dumped a puck into the offensive zone, but instead of running along the boards it caromed off the backboard and out in front of the net. Okposo dumped it in the now-empty net after Bobrovsky had looked to play the puck for his seventh score of the year. With an assist on the play, Brendan Guhle collected his first career NHL point.

Artemi Panarin’s power-play score just over six minutes later cut back into the Buffalo lead. The Russian winger took the puck in his own zone and skated through the Buffalo defense on the right side. A toe-drag split Justin Falk and Scott Wilson and Panarin flipped a firm backhand into the top corner past Ullmark to make it 2-1. Columbus’ pair of excellent young defensemen, Seth Jones and Zach Werenski, recorded the assists on Panarin’s 12th score.

Jack Eichel ultimately put the game out of reach with an empty-net goal with just six seconds remaining in the game. The score was Eichel’s 18th of the year while the goal gave him six points in his last trio of games.

Ullmark’s 44 stops were the second most by a Buffalo goaltender this year, falling shy of Robin Lehner’s 48 saves in Chicago in early December.

Buffalo’s win ended a five-game losing streak and the lone goal allowed was the team’s first time doing so since November 24 against Edmonton.

This was the final game before Buffalo’s “bye week” as their next game doesn’t come until next Thursday at Madison Square Garden to take on the Rangers.



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