(WGR 550) – Back on Jan. 12 in a home matchup in Buffalo, the Sabres were the better team against the Winnipeg Jets, but they lost to one of the NHL’s best goaltenders, who stood on his head.
Connor Hellebuyck made 39 saves to steal two points for the Jets.
Tyson Jost tied that game at 2-2, scoring early in the third period, but a bad turnover resulted in the Jets' best forward, Kyle Connor, getting a breakaway on Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, and he went on to score the game-winner.
Luukkonen has only played one game in the last five days. He earned a victory in St. Louis on Tuesday over the Blues, making some great third period saves to preserve the two points.
With that being said, head coach Don Granato announced on Thursday it would be Eric Comrie getting the start in goal in the building he used to call home.
Comrie was Hellebuyck’s backup in Winnipeg, going 10-5-1 with a 2.58 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. This season with Buffalo, he’s 4-8-0 with a 3.67 goals-against average and an .883 save percentage.
The 27-year-old's only NHL game since coming back from a month-long injury was Jan. 10 in a 4-3 loss to the Seattle Kraken. Comrie made 18 saves on 22 shots he faced.
His last NHL start before that was Nov. 16 in Ottawa against the Senators, where he played 32:36 before leaving with a knee injury.
Comrie has lost his last five starts.
Luukkonen has won his last three starts, giving up eight goals. Buffalo is on a four-game winning streak, which comes after losing five out of six games.
Tage Thompson appears to be heating up again with points in five-straight games, scoring two goals and six assists for eight points. That helped Buffalo tie the Boston Bruins for the league scoring lead at 3.81 goals per-game.
Alex Tuch has points in six-straight games, scoring three goals and five assists for eight points. He is now 20th in league scoring, tied with Alex Ovechkin.
Meanwhile, Thompson is back up to fifth in league scoring.
Victor Olofsson didn't score against the Blues, but he has seven goals in eight games.
Buffalo has scored 14 goals in its last three games, but with absolutely no practice time, the power play is still struggling with one goal in six games, going 1-for-15 and 2-for-24 in eight games.
On the other side, the penalty kill has settled down, being perfect in five out of six games and seven out of 10 games. Even with that success, the Sabres are still 27th in the league.
The Sabres have an excellent road record at 14-7-1. They’re 8-1-1 in their last 10 road games, and 11-2-1 in their last 14.
Earlier this week, the Sabres walked into Dallas and beat the Western Conference’s best team in the Stars. Winnipeg is second in the West in points, and third in points percentage behind Dallas and Seattle.
The Sabres are almost to the end of a grueling January that has them playing 13 games in 22 days. Thursday marks seven games in 11 days, and three games in four.
Surprisingly enough, Hellebuyck has lost three of his last four starts. He gave up seven goals in back-to-back starts in Montreal and Toronto. Overall this season, he’s 23-13-1 with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage.
Winnipeg was 2-3-0 on the road trip, losing to the Maple Leafs, Canadiens and Nashville Predators. They beat the Ottawa Senators and Philadelphia Flyers.
This was very weird scheduling by the NHL. Winnipeg went to Detroit, Buffalo and Pittsburgh, flew home to host the Arizona Coyotes, and then went back on the road to Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Philadelphia and Nashville.
The Jets are second in the league in penalty killing, and fourth in goals-against.
Connor has 24 goals and 33 assists for 57 points in 49 games this season.
Since coming back from injury, Nikolaj Ehlers has 17 points in 13 games.
We all know about Rasmus Dahlin and his 53 points in 46 games. Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey is keeping up with 51 points in 49 games.
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