The Buffalo Sabres evened their season’s record at 5-5 when they beat the Philadelphia Flyers by a 5-2 score on the road. There were a number of stars for the Sabres in this win.
Owen Power played a pivotal role, scoring the tie-breaking goal early in the third period. Tage Thompson scored a goal and added two assists, and Brandon Biro contributed with two goals – the first goals of his NHL career. Casey Mittelstadt also scored and Alex Tuch registered two crucial assists. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, with a season-high 38 saves, played well in the crease to take home another win.
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Despite being outshot 40-14 by the Flyers, the Sabres won a hard-fought and strange game. The team was able to pull away in the third period for a solid road win. After a few early games where the Sabres struggled and lost, they are playing better hockey under the guidance of head coach Don Granato.
Item One: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen Has Another Great Game
Luukkonen has certainly been a bright spot for the Sabres this season. Once again, he had an outstanding game. Although he faced 40 shots, he managed to stop 38 of them. Even after he gave up two goals in the first period, he stayed calm in the crease. He was able to shut down the Flyers in the final two frames and the Sabres scored three goals in the third period.
Luukkonen’s recent performances have been impressive. In his previous game, he threw a shutout against the strong Colorado Avalanche. His stellar play has now pushed his record to 3-1-0 for the season. His save percentage now sits at .926 and his goals-against average is at 2.60.
Rookie goalie Devon Levi returned as the team’s backup on Wednesday. While Levi was the goalie of choice for the first few games, Luukkonen’s consistently standout play should earn him an increased share of the net. The team’s third goalie, Eric Comrie, remains sidelined with a lower-body injury.
Item Two: Casey Mittelstadt Had a Stellar Performance
Mittelstadt scored a goal and contributed an assist to aid the win. His goal got Buffalo on the scoreboard early in the first period. Showing good speed and skill, he beat Carter Hart on the rush to tie the game at 1-1. He also played a key role by assisting on Biro’s empty-net goal in the third period.
This game was Mittelstadt’s fourth multiple-point game of the season. He’s been a large part of the Sabres’ success this year, with three goals and nine points in his first 10 games. The 24-year-old center is building off his impressive 2022-23 season, during which he scored 15 goals and added 44 assists. He’s clearly established himself as a key member of the team’s top-six forward unit.
Item Three: Brandon Biro Has a Memorable Second NHL Game
In his season debut for the Sabres, Biro had a remarkable game, scoring the first two NHL goals of his career in a 5-2 victory over the Flyers.
Biro’s first goal came midway through the first period, putting Buffalo ahead 2-1. He jumped on a loose puck in front of the net, making no mistake and stuffing it into the back of the net. His second goal of the night was an empty-netter in the third period, sealing the Sabres’ victory. Biro’s offense played a key role in helping his team win.
What an impressive performance and a significant milestone for Biro in only his second NHL game. His NHL debut came in 2021 but he didn’t get a point. However, the 25-year-old winger didn’t miss his chance this time. Playing on the Sabres’ top line with Tage Thompson and Jordan Greenway helps.
In his time at the American Hockey League (AHL) level, Biro had scored two goals and put up six points in five games before his NHL call-up. Could the Sherwood Park, Alberta, native become a valuable asset in Buffalo’s offense, or is this game a one-off? He’ll be fun to watch as he continues to play more NHL games.
Item Four: Tage Thompson Collects Three Points on the Night
Thompson put up a standout performance in the Sabres’ 5-2 win by scoring a goal and adding two assists to his team’s scoring. He started his night with an assist on Biro’s first-period goal and followed up with another assist on Power’s goal in the third period. Thompson also scored a goal of his own later in the third period. His wrist shot beat Flyers’ goalie Samuel Ersson, which pushed the Sabres’ lead to 4-2.
The 26-year-old Thompson has been on a point-producing streak. He’s put up four goals and four assists in his last four games. After a slow start to the season, where he only put up a single point in his first six games, his recent offense adds a spark to the Sabres’ lineup.
He has shown he can make a difference almost all by himself. Fortunately, this season a number of other Sabres’ players are jumping in to aid the cause.
What’s Next for the Sabres?
The Sabres now return home Friday for a single game, once more against these same Flyers. They then travel up the highway to meet the Toronto Maple Leafs in a Saturday contest before they move on the road to Carolina to meet the Hurricanes.
Currently, the Sabres’ record is 5-5-0 and they sit sixth in the Atlantic Division. Can they continue to win? They have the offense. It would seem their goalie play will be the tipping point for the team this season.