After a couple of poor showings against the Boston Bruins, the Buffalo Sabres hit their stride on Friday night, exploding for six goals to take down their opponent, 6-4 at KeyBank Center.
Buffalo finally managed to get some contributions from their power play, and they chased Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, who shut them out earlier in the week.
Let's take a look at three observations from Friday's contest:
1.) Luukkonen solid in debut
Boston gave the Sabres an early scare with a goal off their first shot coming from Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer. Thankfully for rookie netminder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, he was able to collect himself and turn in a solid performance.
Luukkonen stood tall in the second period, stopping all 13 shots from the Bruins, while the Sabres increased their lead. This allowed the young goaltender to get more into the game.
Luukkonen faced a big test in the third period, as the Bruins mustered 22 shots on goal, and the 22-year-old goalie did his best to turn aside all of them.
Down 5-1, at the time, the Bruins started to battle back.
They got their first big chance off a goal from Nick Ritchie following a point shot from Kampfer that found its way through traffic. After Luukkonen made the initial save, the rebound popped out to Ritchie, who got to it first and deposited the rebound in the net.
The Bruins kept battling and broke through with another couple of goals, but each of them came off of untimely deflections from Rasmus Ristolainen.
Luukkonen's debut resulted in him turning aside 36 of the Bruins' 40 shots, good for his first NHL win and a .900 save percentage. It will be interesting to see if he gets any more action in the net before the season is over.
2.) Samuelsson adds his first NHL points
Mattias Samuelsson is enjoying his first taste of NHL action.
The rookie defenseman was called up before last Sunday afternoon's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and has provided a big-body presence on the blue line alongside longtime Sabres defender Rasmus Ristolainen.
Ristolainen has taken on a role of showing young defensemen the way at the NHL level. He did that with Jacob Bryson to start the season, and now Sabres interim head coach Don Granatp thinks Ristolainen can help do the same for Samuelsson.
Things paid off for Samuelsson on Friday, who picked up his first two NHL points on goals from Casey Mittelstadt and Arttu Ruotsalainen.
Samuelsson will likely be given time with the big club for the rest of the season so the Sabres can get a good look at how he may fit with the team in the future.
3.) Reinhart continues to lead the Sabres
Sabres forward Sam Reinhart has always carried a lot of responsibility after being taken with the second overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
For the most part, Reinhart's entire career has been played at the side of Sabres captain Jack Eichel. Many have quietly wondered whether or not he'd be able to play well in Eichel's absense.
So far, Reinhart has delivered.
His hat-trick on Friday extended his goal tally to 20 on the year. Reinhart has scored 36 points in 45 games this year, and any questions as to whether he can play on his own have been unequivocally answered.
With injuries and trades to the Sabres' forward group, Reinhart has also been asked to play center, a position he hadn't played full-time since he played in the Western Hockey League. He's played so well in his time there that Granato says he sees no reason to move Reinhart back to the wing moving forward.
Reinhart will be a restricted free agent this coming summer, and the Sabres are going to have a big decision to make as to how they want to handle the forward during the offseason. Reinhart's elevated play this year won't make the decision easy for Buffalo.
The Sabres will get a day off from game action before traveling to "The City That Never Sleeps." The New York Rangers will host Buffalo on Sunday evening at Madison Square Garden.
We'll get things rolling at 5 p.m. ET with the Paul William Beltz Pregame Show, hosted by Brian Koziol. Opening faceoff is scheduled to take place just after 6 p.m. ET on the radio flagship station of the Sabres - WGR Sports Radio 550.