Linus Ullmark was voted the Amerks' Most Valuable Player last season. He looks ready to reclaim the prize this year.
The goaltender was in control throughout Rochester's preseason finale Saturday night in HarborCenter. Ullmark made difficult glove saves look easy, stayed with shooters in front and allowed his teammates to gain their footing.
The Amerks earned a 3-2 comeback victory when Hudson Fasching scored with 43.8 seconds left. Fasching's first close-range shot was stopped, but Sahir Gill knocked the rebound out of the air and Fasching got a piece as it went in the net.
The Sabres' decision to sign goalie Chad Johnson as Robin Lehner's backup meant Ullmark would start another season in Rochester. Before getting sent down last week, he appeared in two preseason games for the Sabres.
The 24-year-old stopped 43 of 45 shots to make a positive impression. He made another during his brief return to Buffalo for the American Hockey League exhibition game.
Ullmark finished with 23 saves.
Watching the prospects: The Sabres' brass was among the 500 or so in attendance. General Manager Jason Botterill watched from the Sabres' box along with coach Phil Housley and his assistants, Davis Payne, Chris Hajt and Tom Ward.
On the board: Toronto used a fortunate bounce to open the scoring with 5:18 left in the first. Seconds after a penalty to Rochester's Brendan Guhle expired, the Marlies' Tobias Lindberg sent the puck toward the net. It hit the stick of Amerks defenseman Brycen Martin and skyrocketed over Ullmark.
Still making his case: Center Colin Blackwell, one of the best players in the Sabres' Prospects Challenge, is skating with the Amerks on a tryout basis. He continues to push for a contract.
With the Amerks short-handed during the opening minute of the second period, Blackwell scooped up the puck at his own blue and bolted into the left side of the Marlies' zone. He cut in front of a defender to get to the right side and scored with 39 seconds gone to tie it, 1-1.
Toss, toss: The linesman threw Toronto's Max Novak out of the faceoff, which worked out for the Marlies. Steven McParland stepped in and won the draw to Novak, who quickly fired a shot off the post and in. The goal gave the Marlies a 2-1 lead with 6:28 left in the second.
Tied again: The Amerks made it 2-2 with 3:50 gone in the third, using cross-ice passes to dizzy the Marlies. Steve Moses spun away from defenders at the right side of the blue line and went across the ice to C.J. Smith, who quickly passed back to Kyle Criscuolo at the front of the net for a tap-in.
Slow start: The Amerks were credited with just three shots during the first period while Toronto took 11. The Marlies had an 18-8 shot lead after two periods.
Getting their rest: The Amerks scratched five skaters who are expected to play important roles this season. Right wing Justin Bailey, demoted by the Sabres earlier in the day, sat along with fellow forwards Nick Baptiste and Kevin Porter, and defensemen Nathan Paetsch and Casey Nelson.
Next: Rochester opens its 62nd regular season at home at 7 p.m. Friday when the Syracuse Crunch visits Blue Cross Arena. A pregame Party on the Patio will begin at 5 p.m. with music from the Strictly Hip.