Buffalo Sabres goaltender puts up yet another encouraging performance despite loss

Shutout losses are never good, but you can’t fault Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who put up yet another encouraging performance.
Jan 13, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA;  Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1) looks to
Jan 13, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1) looks to / Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Sabres played some pedestrian hockey offensively vs. the Vancouver Canucks despite generating a few good chances that could have sent the game into overtime. But losing the turnover battle and some hesitation in the offensive zone limited those chances and it ended up costing them the game. However, goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen managed to keep the score close enough for the Blue and Gold to challenge one of the NHL’s best teams.

Further, the Canucks were the NHL’s highest-scoring team heading into the contest with 164 goals, yet Luukkonen managed to stop all but one, giving him a 0.957 save percentage with 22 saves on 23 shots on goal. Overall, Luukkonen also saved four shots when Vancouver was on the power play, allowing the Sabres penalty kill to pick up where it left off in Thursday night’s win

Luukkonen delivers yet another sound outing for the Buffalo Sabres

While this one will count as a loss for Luukkonen, he’s without a doubt continuing to grow throughout the 2023-24 season in what was a pivotal year for the 24-year-old. At this point, he’s become the undisputed No. 1 goaltender until Devon Levi gives him a challenge, and we should expect to see him get the bulk of the goaltending duties for the foreseeable future. 

This isn’t to say we won’t, or shouldn’t see Levi in action, especially this week with outings vs. the San Jose Sharks at noon on Monday (no, that is not a typo), and the Chicago Blackhawks later in the week. But when the Buffalo Sabres are facing some of the league’s best, or even teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning, whom they will also play this upcoming week, Luukkonen is who you want in the net. 

Overall, it wasn’t the performance we wanted to see from the Blue and Gold offensively despite a few good looks on Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko. But wow, it was once again definitely the way we wanted to see Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen perform.


(Statistics provided by NHL.com)