Linus Ullmark is taking control in goal for the Buffalo Sabres. He’s got the Los Angeles Kings’ number, too.
Ullmark made 25 saves to lead the Sabres to a 3-2 win over the Kings on Saturday. It was yet another commanding performance for the 26-year-old netminder, who has become the Sabres’ clear top option in the crease this season.
“He made some really nice saves,” Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. “But more than anything he’s emitting a calm in his persona, the way he’s managing his net, his puck play just a lot of things from Linus that we like that we’re seeing right now and above all just a consistency in his game. That’s something we can definitely build on.”
Ullmark improved to 4-0 against the Kings in his career, posting a combined save percentage of .928 and a 1.71 goals-against average. His dominance helped the Sabres end a three-game skid and bounce back from a deflating 6-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. Buffalo improved to 17-13-7.
“We had two rough games coming into this one. The good thing is we know it’s not about the opponent, it’s always about what we can do,” Ullmark said. “We didn’t feel like anyone was stressed out or anything like that, which is very nice this year. Guys are keeping their composure.”
Rasmus Ristolainen and Marco Scandella scored for Buffalo, and Victor Oloffson added an empty-net goal.
Ullmark’s best moment came at the very end of the second period when he extended his glove to make a highlight-reel save on Anze Kopitar. He also robbed Sean Walker midway through the third from close range and made a key stop with 4:17 remaining on a quick rush to the net by Austin Wagner.
Adrian Kempe and Dustin Brown scored for Los Angeles, which fell to 15-19-4.
“Effort was there, a pretty evenly played game, could’ve went to either side,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “Both teams hit a few posts so at the end of the night we come out on the short end, but not disappointed in the effort or what was put into the game.”
Jonathan Quick was solid in net for the Kings, making 25 saves.
Kempe opened the scoring 1:32 into the second. Kempe found an opening in the high slot for his seventh goal of the season and his third in the last three games.
Ristolainen got the Sabres on the board 7:35 into the second, finishing a rebound from the left circle after two quick shots from Jeff Skinner.
Scandella gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead with 3:12 left in the second, blasting a shot from the point that deflected off Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.
After Oloffson scored an empty-net goal, Brown quickly scored to again make it a one-goal game with 37.7 seconds remaining by finishing a pretty cross-ice feed by Doughty. Los Angeles’ comeback effort ended there, however, with the Sabres finishing off the game in the Kings’ end.
“This game was there for the taking,” Doughty said. “I didn’t like our effort in the second period again. We could have won this one if we had played a little better overall.”
Kings center Trevor Lewis was injured 1:31 into the game and did not return. Lewis went in to hit Sabres center Rasmus Asplund and took the worst of the collision. The Kings said Lewis has an upper-body injury. Defenseman Kurtis MacDermid and right wing Matt Luff were scratched by the Kings. Left wing Johan Larsson, defenseman Colin Miller and left wing Conor Sheary were scratched for Buffalo. Larsson is dealing with a lower-body injury. This was the second and final game between these teams this season.
Kings: Return home to play the St. Louis Blues on Monday.
Sabres: On the road against Ottawa on Monday.