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5 Takeaways | Sabres face 'tough day all around' in road loss to Bruins

Buffalo falters in third period, Luukkonen exits game early with injury

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen left Saturday afternoon's game against the Boston Bruins after the second period with what appeared to be a lower-body injury. 

Luukkonen had made 26 saves on 29 shots to that point, but the Bruins came on strong in the third period to win 6-2 at TD Garden. 

Sabres interim coach Don Granato said he wouldn't have an update on Luukkonen's status until the team returns to Buffalo.

Craig Smith recorded a hat trick for Boston. Sean Kuraly, Patrice Bergeron and Nick Ritchie also scored for the Bruins. Jeremy Swayman made 17 saves. 

Riley Sheahan scored shorthanded for Buffalo and Arttu Ruotsalainen scored the fifth goal of his career. 

"A lot of goals came from self-inflicted mistakes and we weren't on our game," Sheahan said. "They were bearing down. Just the little battles and little things that you do to win games, we weren't doing. I guess we got it handed to us."

Buffalo closes out their season series with Boston with a record of 1-6-1. 

Here are a few takeaways from the game:


1. Luukkonen's injury adds to tough day overall

Granato said after Thursday's game that development will be a major focus for the rest of the season. In net, the organization was giving Luukkonen a great chance to gain NHL experience.

The 22-year-old rookie made his NHL debut on April 23 and had started four of Buffalo's five games since. 

That plan may now be derailed because of the injury. 

"That's added on to the tough day," Granato said. "It was a tough day all around and that's obviously a big one because this is a great opportunity for him to get some minutes and now that's in question. He battled tonight. Like I said, every now and then you have a really tough day. Everybody had a really tough day today."

Dustin Tokarski came in to start the third period and stopped 11 of 14 shots. 

2. Early pressure from Boston leads to early deficit

Video: POSTGAME: Granato

Boston got off to a fast start and had the Sabres on their heels early. Smith's goal at the 1:21 mark of the first period set the tone and then they closed out the period with a goal from Kuraly.

"They played a real simple game and we struggled to play, to simplify anything today," Granato said.

"…That's why I say every now and then, you have a tough day and you just look at things. It's like, 'Why are we complicating what should be really simple?' And that was the entire game for us. We just kept making it hard on ourselves. "
Up 3-1 heading into the third, the Bruins wasted no time in challenging Tokarski. They scored twice on seven shots in the first 5:31 of the final period. 

Video: BUF Recap: Sheahan scores sweet goal in loss

"They were working so hard shift in and shift out," defenseman Rasmus Dahlin said. "As a young group, we've gotta learn from a team like that. Their star players work as hard as their fourth line. It's a tough team to play against and definitely something to learn about."

The Bruins outshot Buffalo 17-4 in the first 20 minutes and 43-19 overall. 

"No discredit to our opposition, they played hard - very hard and a hell of a team, but we just couldn't, for whatever reason get to a simple game," Granato said. 

"The shot [total] is a perfect example. We didn't get any pucks behind them. We passed on shots we could have taken. We were too easy to play against in that regard. And it was self-inflicted, a very large part of that."

3. Sheahan's shorty is one for the highlight reel

Video: BUF@BOS: Sheahan scores nifty SHG

The timing was just right for the Sabres to score their fifth shorthanded goal of the season. With 1 second remaining on a penalty to Sheahan, the Sabres committed another penalty when Mattias Samuelsson was called for tripping.

On the ensuing faceoff in the Buffalo zone, Casey Mittelstadt won the draw and defenseman Jacob Bryson sent the puck up the ice to Sheahan, who had just stepped out of the box. Sheahan then skated in on a breakaway to net his fourth goal of the year.

Video: POSTGAME: Sheahan


4. Dahlin's 'feistiness' is welcome

The game got pretty chippy at times, specifically at the midway point of the third period. 

With 12:29 left in regulation, David Pastrnak crashed into the net after taking a hit from Dahlin. The collision sent Tokarski into the back of the net. 

On the next shift they faced each other, Dahlin hit Pastrnak behind the net, drew the attention of Brad Marchand and everyone then paired up. Although gloves were dropped, no real punches were thrown and the Sabres ended up with a power play.

Dahlin wound up in the box for cross checking while Marchand and Pastrnak were each called for roughing.

Video: POSTGAME: Dahlin

"It's always a physical game," Dahlin said. "They're good team so they don't give us a lot. You know, it's, it's kind of frustrating, but they're good team for sure."

Dahlin stepping up in those situations is a welcome sight for Granato.

"I do like him being feisty on occasion," he said. "I don't like it to take them off their game, but I don't think anybody was on their game today. So if you're not on your game, you should probably be feisty and compensate some other ways so that was fine with me."


5. Final homestand coming up

The Sabres will now head home to prepare for the last week of the season. Buffalo will play host to the New York Islanders on Monday and Tuesday at KeyBank Center for the final home games of 2020-21. 

Buffalo will close out the campaign on the road against Pittsburgh on Thursday and Saturday. 

Bonus: Donate today to Bald For Bucks

Video: Marty, Dan and Mike Weber go Bald For Bucks

Dan Dunleavy, Martin Biron and Rochester Americans assistant coach Mike Weber went "Bald For Bucks" during Saturday's broadcast on MSG.

Donate $50 or more from now until May 2 to receive a limited-edition Buffalo Sabres Bald for Bucks T-shirt. Click here for full details.

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