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Buffalo Sabres

Bears Shut Down Americans, Even Eastern Final  



The Rochester Americans over their seven consecutive playoff victories averaged nearly six goals per game. That impressive streak ended on Thursday in Game 2 of the Calder Cup Eastern Conference Final, as the Hershey Bears shut out the Amerks 2-0 and evened the best-of-seven series at one game apiece.

Hershey’s Henrik Borgstrom and Beck Malenstyn scored late in the second period and the Americans could not break through against Bears goalie Hunter Shepherd, who made 24 saves for the shutout.

“We probably had better scoring chances tonight or at least as good of chances and, you know, for whatever reason, we were either you didn’t execute them or “(Shepherd) made some really big saves, probably four or five big saves at 0-0, as you’d expect an excellent goaltender like he is to do after an off outing.” Amerks head coach Seth Appert said after the game. “I didn’t think we played fast enough tonight. Our defense didn’t move the puck fast enough tonight. I thought our D played a little slow with it and then they got back above and they were good in the neutral zone because of that.”


Savoie Makes Professional Debut

Buffalo Sabres first-round pick Matthew Savoie made his professional debut in the contest. The 2022 ninth-overall pick joined the Americans on the weekend after being eliminated from the WHL Playoffs and did not register a shot on goal, but Appert was pleased with the effort of the 19-year-old rookie.

“It was a hard first game,” Appert said. “You’re playing the top team in the Eastern Conference in a hard building and against a big heavy older old team. I thought (Matthew) did a really good job and things will get better as a series goes on.”

The series shifts to Blue Cross Arena for Game 3 on Saturday and Game 4 on Memorial Day Monday.


Johnson Status Uncertain

The clock is ticking on whether Sabres first-rounder Ryan Johnson will sign an entry-level deal with Buffalo or choose to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The 21-year-old blueliner was selected 31st overall in 2019 and has 18 points in his senior season at the University of Minnesota. If Johnson does not sign his entry-level contract with the Sabres by June 30, he will be able to sign with any NHL club starting August 15 and Buffalo will receive a compensatory second-round pick in 2024.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on the 32 Thoughts podcast on Friday that the Sabres seem to be confident that they can get Johnson signed before the deadline, but that there is work to be done and will be happy either way with him signing or getting the draft pick.