Buffalo Sabres finally get a win, thanks to Linus Ullmark

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 19: Linus Ullmark
BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 19: Linus Ullmark /

The Buffalo Sabres have finally won a game in 2018. The five-game losing skid is over after a 3-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets, courtesy of Linus Ullmark.

The Swedish prospect put out a sublime performance with 44 saves, while getting goal-scoring support from Benoit Pouliot, Kyle Okposo and Jack Eichel. It was an impressive win for the Buffalo Sabres, over a Jackets team that’s currently second in the Metropolitan Division.

The key to the Sabres winning hockey games is getting off to a strong start. Fans have seen it all season long in the 11 total victories, and it happened on Thursday night. Okposo surprisingly won a draw and Rasmus Ristolainen sent in a blistering shot that Eichel tipped just wide.

Markus Nutivaara made a silly turnover behind his own net that Sam Reinhart proudly intercepted. Reinhart threw it to the net and Sergei Bobrovsky let out a rebound right to Evan Rodrigues, who got denied by the Russian keeper.

It was another bad giveaway by Columbus’ Scott Harrington that Okposo eventually took advantage of, by bringing into the slot from a feed by Eichel. Pouliot was right at the side of the net to give the Swords the lead.

In the second period, All-Star selection Seth Jones took a shot from the point that was astonishingly gloved down by Ullmark. The second frame ended with Buffalo holding the lead for the first time this season.

Evander Kane started the third period off with a shoot-in that fooled both Jones and Bobrovsky. An open net for Okposo gave made the Sabres’ lead 2-0 with 12 minutes to go in the game.

Artemi Panarin dangled around the whole Buffalo Sabres team and made Justin Falk look horrible with a sweet move. He eventually exposed Ullmark at the end of the play with a back hand to cut the lead in half.

Buffalo would remain determined for a win however, and with nine seconds left, Eichel fired the puck into the empty-net to secure the victory at KeyBank Center.

Key Stats

Buffalo Sabres

  • 29 shots
  • 14 hits
  • Key Player: Ullmark with a .978 save percentage

Columbus Blue Jackets

  • 45 shots
  • 1/1 on the power play
  • 5 turnovers
  • Key Player: Panarin with the seemingly crucial goal

Three Stars

  • 3rd – Okposo
  • 2nd – Bobrovsky
  • 1st – Ullmark

This game only showed fans the obvious; the Sabres can win hockey games against good teams. It hasn’t been a matter of they can’t do it this season, it’s that Buffalo usually won’t do it.

The headlines will swirl around Ullmark after an absolute brilliant display against a team that has a lot of offensive firepower. Can he replace Robin Lehner or Chad Johnson? Maybe. But as if right now, it seems as if a bit of a knee-jerk reaction.

Phil Housley can only ask for so much from a struggling hockey club. The coach has to be proud of his victory against a good hockey club.

Next: Evander Kane and Justin Falk get into it at practice

Impressed with the win on Thursday night? Will Ullmark remain in Buffalo for the moment? Let us know in the comments section below.