The Buffalo Sabres lost their penultimate preseason game 5-3, and two players may have sealed their fate with the Blue and Gold.
Zach Benson wasn’t long out of the penalty box when he drove the puck down the ice on a 2-on-1, but he couldn’t connect on the ensuing pass to Lukas Rousek, and the Buffalo Sabres came up empty-handed. Not long after, he once again found himself in possession of a puck with an open shooting lane after taking a quick pass from Mattias Samuelsson. Benson didn’t hesitate, and he helped the Sabres claw their way back from a 3-1 deficit by scoring the game-tying goal.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen allowed four goals on the night. To be fair, the Blue and Gold did not play well defensively, as they were out of position far too often – especially newcomer Connor Clifton. But once again, and I can’t stress this enough: If you want to be an NHL goaltender, you need to step up and make a few more plays.
Zach Benson may have a spot on the Buffalo Sabres, UPL, not so much…
In the third period, Adam Fantilli fired one from long range, and while the puck deflected off of a stick, further review tells me Luukkonen should have saved it. I actually slowed the following video down, basically frame-by-frame, and from my perspective, Luukkonen had his eyes on the puck the entire time. He was neither in ideal position, nor was he quick enough.
Once again – Make a play. Yet once again, I’ll be fair: Luukkonen made some big saves, but overall, he once again found himself dealing with poor positioning. This was a situation that initially looked like Luukkonen’s job to lose, and he may have just lost it tonight against Eric Comrie.
Anyway, I’m expecting Benson to find a spot on the Buffalo Sabres final lineup, but I don’t know if Luukkonen’s getting another chance. And once again, I cannot stress how badly the defense played tonight, but Luukkonen once again didn’t step up, so we’ll see what those in charge decide to do.