BROOKLYN – The Buffalo Sabres will be a bit banged up for their final game of the season on Saturday night at Barclays Center. While the injuries to Johan Larsson, Zach Bogosian and Chad Johnson aren’t considered serious, they'll be enough to keep the trio out of the lineup against the New York Islanders.
Hudson Fasching and Casey Nelson will reenter the lineup after both sat as healthy scratches against Columbus on Friday. Goalie Linus Ullmark has been recalled from Rochester and will start in net with rookie Jason Kasdorf serving as his backup.
Ullmark, a 22-year-old rookie, played in 19 games while splitting time with Johnson during Robin Lehner's absence in the first half of the season. He went 7-10-2 with a .915 save percentage and 2.58 goals-against average.
His results in Rochester, however, have been a mixed bag. He was named CCM/AHL Player of the Week on Feb. 21 when he allowed three goals on 97 shots in a two-game span (.969). But he allowed 10 goals in the next two games, and his save percentage is .902 in 26 total games with the Amerks.
"If you look at the statistics lately it hasn’t been really good," Ullmark said. "But still I feel like I'm heading in the right direction and kept battling every game … If you start thinking maybe a little bit too much about the games when you're playing bad, it's easy to go downhill."
Ullmark has had quite the season considering he hadn’t yet even played a game in North America when he returned from hip surgery in September. He started the first three games of the season for Rochester prior to his first recall to Buffalo, where he stayed until Jan. 14.
"It's been a terrific learning experience from day one and hopefully to the last day here," Ullmark said. "Just to have the opportunity to play in the National Hockey League and also having the opportunity to play a lot of games in the AHL. I've tried to develop my games to the North American style, all that stuff, and the learning process has been really fun."
Ullmark was the starter in Buffalo's first game at Barclays Center, a 2-1 Sabres win. That game was his third in the NHL, and he was sharp in stopping 29 of the 30 shots that he faced. On Saturday, he'll face an Islanders team that's already clinched a playoff berth but is still fighting for seeding.
But the youth-infused Sabres – they'll have eight rookies in the lineup – will be fighting to end their season on a high note.
"I know I want to go out on a good note, I know I want to go out and win this game and I know the players do as well," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "We've been shooting to get to .500 and we missed that opportunity with last night's loss. Eighty points is another number we want to achiever and in order to do that we need to get this game to overtime [or] win the game."
Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Tops Sabres Gamenight on MSG-B and Bell TV. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.