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Sabres notebook: Ullmark’s struggles continue in the net

It wasn’t his day.

Granted, Linus Ullmark hasn’t received much goal support in his last four starts for the Buffalo Sabres. The team has scored just two goals in those four losses. But there were plenty of plays the goaltender would like back after giving up four goals in a 5-1 loss to the Florida Panthers in First Niagara Center Tuesday night.

“Sometimes they beat you. Sometimes you’re having a real good day. Today wasn’t really my day,” Ullmark said. “It’s a new day tomorrow.”

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead on a beautiful play from Jaromir Jagr. The Sabres tied the game in the second but a two-on-one break ended with a quick goal from Derek MacKenzie for a 2-1 Florida lead.

“I think it just went straight in,” Ullmark said when asked if the puck was tipped. “I thought I had top shelf but he beat me there.”

Then there was the third goal, a get by Corban Knight after Quinton Howden played the puck from behind the net and Ullmark was sprawled out of position with little help from his defense in front.

“You give up four goals it’s never going to be a good assessment of the game,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “In particular their third goal, the forecheck goal where the play happens from behind the net and he kind of makes a push to the puck and ends up on his stomach. That was a big goal for their team. That one, didn’t like that one.”

That gave the Panthers a 3-1 lead with 14:24 left in the game. As the Sabres pushed offensively it left Ullmark vulnerable and he let in a breakaway goal from Jonathan Huberdeau with 3:54 left.

“If you’re down 3-1 of course you want to go for it,” Ullmark said. “There’s no point in playing defense. You need two goals. That time of the period that’s what we want to do and they got a breakaway and they buried it.”

As for the lack of goal support, well that comes with the territory of being a goaltender. Goal support is not in his control and while the Sabres’ particular lack of scoring in front of him could create pressure to be perfect, Ullmark said that pressure is already there.

“You’re always out there trying to take every puck,” Ullmark said. “You always want to have a shutout so it’s not that I have more pressure on me because it’s just the same game. It’s just we didn’t score enough goals today.”

Ullmark, who had double hip surgery in April, wasn’t supposed to be with the Sabres this season. He was supposed to spend his first season as a North American pro with the Rochester Americans. But then starter Robin Lehner suffered a high ankle sprain in the season opener and in came Ullmark. He went 4-2-0 in his first six games but since then has been on a 1-8-2 slide.

Tuesday’s loss in First Niagara Center may be his last appearance in Buffalo this season. Ullmark will make the Sabres upcoming road trip to Chicago, Winnipeg and Minnesota while Lehner begins a conditioning assignment with the Amerks – the last step before returning to the Sabres.

“Robin Lehner will be assigned to Rochester for a conditioning stint starting this weekend,” Bylsma said Tuesday morning. “They play three in three and then again on next Wednesday. Robin will be going down tomorrow or the next day to get a few practices in and get a game situation in. Mark Pysyk will also be reassigned for a conditioning stint for the weekend.”

The “three-in-three” refers to the Amerks games on Friday (home vs. Hershey), Saturday (at Binghamton) and Sunday (home vs. Syracuse). The Amerks then play in Albany on Wednesday.

Lehner has missed 39 games while Pysyk has missed 22 games with a bone bruise.

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With Nic Deslauriers out of the Sabres lineup for three to five weeks with a foot injury, it’s up to Marcus Foligno to bring the moxie when it comes to the fourth line.

“I think you maybe expect more responsibility,” Foligno said Tuesday morning in First Niagara Center. “I mean you don’t want to go out of your way too much to fill another person’s role of hitting. Then you’re going to take yourself out.

“I think we’re just going to have to work a little bit harder. Maybe a little bit smarter. But you’ve got to bring a little more because you’re trying to supply the energy of two guys out there.”

Foligno tied with Evander Kane for a team-high three hits Tuesday night while registering three shots on goal in his 8:39 of ice time.

He played on the wing with Tim Schaller, recalled from the Amerks, and David Legwand.

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Bylsma had some thoughts on Jagr, still going strong at age 43.

“I think if you go way back you see a skilled player, offensive guy,” Bylsma said. “I don’t know back then, I don’t know if I would have called him a hard worker … but he is now and what he’s done over the course of three decades has been real impressive. He’s served me up some heartache along the way both as a player and coaching against him in Philly and Boston. He’s done some damage.

“But I just remark at the hard work he brings to the rink every day now and I don’t know how old he is, but after the game tonight, we’re going to see him working out in the hallway. ... He’s an extremely hard worker. He’s an example for pretty much everybody and he doesn’t look like he’s stopping.”

email: amoritz@buffnews.com

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