Buffalo Sabres: Luukkonen conquered the net in win vs. Avalanche

Dec 15, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Artturi Lehkonen (62) takes a shot against Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1) in the first period at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 15, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Artturi Lehkonen (62) takes a shot against Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1) in the first period at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /
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Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen struggled in the net all season, but he was stellar for much of the Buffalo Sabres win over the Avalanche. 

Throughout 2022, the Buffalo Sabres saw a multitude of struggles with goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen in the net. That wasn’t the case on Thursday night, as the Blue and Gold cruised to a 4-2 win in a game where Luukkonen pitched a shutout over the first 52 minutes of the contest.

Overall, the star-crossed goaltender saved 40 out of 42 shots on goal, good enough for a 0.951 save percentage. It was by far Luukkonen’s most impressive performance of the year. And for once, he proved me wrong, as I had the Avalanche taking this one easily tonight.

Instead, Luukkonen was dialed in, and he seemed to get better as the game wore on. Sure, he allowed two goals during the second half of the third period, but he allowed one too many rebounds and second chances early. His puck-handling improved in the latter stages of the game, and he was a big reason Buffalo won this affair, given Colorado’s relentless attack.

Luukkonen dominated in the net for the Buffalo Sabres

We all know how dangerous the Colorado Avalanche are, and the defending Stanley Cup Champions did not hold back, consistently attacking the net, especially in the third frame. While the Sabres did a good job matching the Avalanche stride for stride, it seemed as though Colorado would not gas out during the early stages of the third, where they threw everything at Luukkonen.

Sure, it was just one game, but Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen showed us that yes, he can play goaltender at a high level in the big leagues. Now, he needs to gain some consistency and do it again the next time we see him between the pipes.

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Odds are, it will occur on Saturday when the Sabres travel to Arizona State University to take on the Coyotes. If Luukkonen has another good game, we may very well see a turning point for the much-maligned goaltender.

(Statistics provided by NHL.com)

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