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Sharpen Up: All the Sabres news you need to know on October 21, 2019

Buffalo returns from its California road trip with a home game tomorrow night against the Sharks

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

The Sabres currently sit atop the Atlantic Division with 15 points through nine games. They're 7-1-1 after going 2-1-0 on their road trip through California last week. 

After dropping their first game to Anaheim, the team bounced back to shut out the Kings 3-0 and then beat San Jose 4-3 on Saturday. 

Buffalo is back home now and will take on the Sharks tomorrow night at KeyBank Center.

Here's what you need to know. 


Looking back at Saturday night

Video: Girgensons, Sabres hold on to defeat Sharks

From the Lexus Postgame Report… 

A team can learn a lot about itself on its first long road trip of a season. 

The Sabres had won three straight games at KeyBank Center when they departed for California on Monday. They lost despite a strong start in Anaheim on Wednesday and needed a brilliant 47-save effort from Carter Hutton to gut out a win in Los Angeles on Thursday. 

All the while, Ralph Krueger watched his team and was pleased with the growth he saw. 

"We speak about being connected on the ice, but you could really feel this group was connected off the ice," Krueger said. "After the Anaheim loss, how we dealt with that, and the vibe in the room today even though we weren't happy with the game and the way we played in L.A. 

"… Just coming together here the last couple of days, lots of time together but nothing but a small picture in our heads and a hunger to continue to learn. That's what we're going to continue to do when we go home now."

Video: POSTGAME: Girgensons

Video: ON THE BROADCAST: Conor Sheary

Video: POSTGAME: Krueger 

Video: POSTGAME: Skinner 

Video: POSTGAME: Johansson

The Sabres put together one more resilient effort in the finale, a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Saturday. The Sharks erased three deficits, including two at the beginning of the third period, but Krueger felt his team responded with its best road period to date.

Zemgus Girgensons scored the winning goal with 7:45 remaining in regulation. Marcus Johansson (1+1) and Henri Jokiharju (0+2) each tallied two points, while Casey Mittelstadt and Jeff Skinner added goals. Linus Ullmark made 29 saves. 

Goals from Mittelstadt and Johansson gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead entering the third period, which opened with three goals scored in the span of 2:50.

Read the full breakdown of the game here.

Luukkonen to Rochester

Yesterday, the Sabres assigned goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to the Rochester Americans, where he'll begin the first season of his pro career.

Luukkonen, who underwent successful hip surgery in late April, made his professional debut in Rochester's regular-season finale on April 14, making 32 saves to earn his first AHL win.

The Finnish netminder was drafted in the second-round of the 2017 NHL Draft (54th overall) and has built up his resume with some impressive accomplishments ever since. 

He backstopped Team Finland to a gold-medal performance at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championships and then wrapped up one of the greatest seasons by a goaltender in Ontario Hockey League history. 

After finishing first in wins (38), tied for first in shutouts (6), second in save percentage (.920) and third in goals-against average (2.50), he was named the OHL's Most Outstanding Player, becoming just the sixth goaltender and the first European import player to win the award.

Tomorrow's game

Tuesday's game against San Jose is the first home-and-home series ever to be played between the teams.

This series is the Sabres' first home-and-home set against a Western Conference opponent since November 1996 (Toronto). It's just their third ever contested against a team located in the Pacific time zone, joining their series against California in February 1971 and Vancouver in March 1996.

Buffalo's last home-and-home series sweep came in the 2014-15 season, as the Sabres beat the Canadiens on Nov. 28 and 29, 2014.

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