With Tage Thompson injured, the Buffalo Sabres had to rely on someone else to lead the team. It seemed that veteran defenseman Rasmus Dahlin pointed to himself on Sunday night (Nov. 19). He delivered in style. Dahlin’s solid performance, featuring a goal and two assists, pushed the Sabres to a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
After the game, Dahlin emphasized the team’s resilience: “We found a way to win. It wasn’t pretty, but we found a way to win. That’s what I take away from this game.”
Latest News & Highlight
In this edition of Sabres News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at the players who stepped up to make a difference last night.
Item One: The Sabres Are Playing Next Man Up
With Thompson sidelined with a wrist injury, the Sabres adopted a “next-man-up mentality.” Although the team misses their leading goal-scorer, they are showing depth and determination. On Sunday night, they had the players they needed to step up in critical moments. Dahlin, especially, played a vital role at both ends of the ice.
The game had to provide a boost of confidence as the team prepares to move forward without Thompson. Now, the job is to build on the positive momentum gained from a hard-fought win in Chicago.
Item Two: Dahlin’s Three-Point Performance Moves Sabres to Victory
In more about Dahlin, his goal and two assists moved the needle for the Sabres. He’s been a consistent factor this season, with four goals and 15 points in 18 games. While he had a brief scoring drought earlier in November, the 23-year-old defenseman has been offensively consistent. He’s not slowing down from last season’s impressive performances.
Last season, Dahlin scored 15 goals and added 58 assists (for 73 points) in 78 games. The fact is that Dahlin is still a young player, but he’s established himself as a lynchpin of the Sabres’ defensive and offensive strategies. He should continue to produce at a high level for years to come.
Item Three: Luukkonen Gains Win with 24 Saves Vs. Blackhawks
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was on his game again, making 24 saves in Buffalo’s 3-2 win. It was his first victory since Nov. 1. Although he gave up two goals on 12 shots in the second period, the 22-year-old Finnish goalie improved his season record to 4-3-1. His stats line is a not-so-bad 2.80 goals-against average (GAA) with a.911 save percentage in nine contests.
In the Sabres’ three-goalie competition (with Devon Levi and Eric Comrie), Luukkonen has become the most reliable option. His performances have been consistent and have contributed to the team’s defensive stability. He seems like the goalie the team can best count on for success in their future games.
Item Four: Erik Johnson’s Goal Sealed the Sabres’ Win
Erik Johnson was the hero for the Sabres on Sunday, scoring the game-winning goal against the Blackhawks. He scored midway through the third period to break a 2-2 tie and seal the win.
It was Johnson’s first game-winning goal since 2021-22. Although the 35-year-old defenseman doesn’t contribute often on the scoresheet, he has the ability to step up in crucial moments.
Johnson also provides a stabilizing force on the Sabres’ blue line. His experience and reliability have made him a valuable asset and leader for Buffalo this season.
Item Five: JJ Peterka Continues His Solid Play
It seems that every time I do a Sabres game review, JJ Peterka’s name stands out. On Sunday night, he registered two assists – one with the man advantage. Peterka adds value to both even-strength and special teams situations.
Peterka’s season totals are growing. He now has seven goals and seven assists (for 14 points) in 18 games. The 21-year-old forward has shown the ability to thrive in an expanding role. He’s responded well to his increased ice time by a couple of minutes each game.
Peterka’s TOI is now up to almost 17 minutes per game (16:53) in the nine games he’s played from Oct. 29 to Nov. 17. The young Sabres talent has started to produce regularly.
Item Six: Jeff Skinner’s Power Play Goal Aids the Sabres’ Cause
Veteran Jeff Skinner continues to make a significant impact with the man advantage. His second-period power-play goal helped push the Sabres to a crucial win. The goal was Skinner’s eighth of the season, and he now has 14 points in 18 games.
While he’s consistently played well this season, the goal against Chicago was only his second point with the man advantage all season. That’s a bit of a surprise but could change as he gets more power-play chances in future games.
What’s Next for the Sabres?
The win over the Blackhawks snapped a three-game losing streak. The team will now prepare to face the Washington Capitals on Wednesday (Nov. 22). It will be interesting for Sabres fans to see who gets the start in goal. Luukkonen has been strong, but Levi seems to be a goalie of choice. The goalie situation might be one move the team will settle over the next while.