Home Sports Devon Levi wins stellar NHL debut for Buffalo Sabres

Devon Levi wins stellar NHL debut for Buffalo Sabres

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Devon Levy’s back was on the central ice as he stood at the net while the crowd inside the Keybank Center serenaded the rookie in his highly anticipated NHL debut.

“Levi, Levi, Levi!”

The chant was in response to a spectacular save showing the prodigious talent that has made Levis one of the best goaltenders in NCAA men’s hockey history. He tracked the puck from right to left with his pass on the New York Rangers’ cross his ice, sliding to save Kaapokak’s one-off shot, and in the second period on Friday night, the Buffaloes hit his Sabers. maintained the lead of

“It was an unbelievable save,” said defenseman Matthias Samuelsson.

The crowd roared. Levi’s family and friends celebrated, which was the type of moment he visualized long before his trade to the Sabers in July 2021 or his record performance at the IIHF World Junior Championship .

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Showcasing the precise technique that earned him the crease just weeks after turning pro after graduating from Northeastern University, Levi’s made a brilliant debut full of clutch saves before Jeff Skinner scored in overtime. It gave the Sabers a 3-2 victory.

“A dream come true,” Levi said with a smile. “I’ve dreamed of that moment my whole life.”

Levis, the fourth-youngest goalkeeper to debut for the Sabers, made 31 saves, including 19 in a dramatic third period, and neither of the Rangers’ goals outright beat him.

The bracket scored by knocking the puck out of the air when it was tipped by Levis, and Adam Fox tied the tie with 10:15 left in the third period by sticking the loose puck onto the line. Levi’s power for the Rangers during his play saw him tie the score with four saves before he slotted the puck with 1:28 remaining Artemi he denied a panarin.

“It’s surreal,” Levis said of the opening game against the New York Rangers. Playing against the best is why I’m here and why I’m excited. Tomorrow will be a big challenge. I look forward to it. “

Skinner scored his 32nd goal of the season in 1:49 of extra time to give the Sabers (36-31-7) their fifth win in 16 games. Eastern Conference.

“The NHL is hockey,” Levi said before handing his father Laurent a game pack. “This is just the game of hockey. It’s the game I’ve been playing all my life. There are a lot of good players, but it’s been a dream of mine to be challenged by the best and to finally be here.” has a chance. Now.”

The Sabers, bolstered by Samuelson’s return from injury, seemed determined to make the night memorable for Levi. J.

The beginning of an unexpected night for Levi. He didn’t wear a helmet for a solo lap at the start of the pre-match warm-up and shot his two pucks into the net before his teammates joined him on the ice. Their aggressive play from the start gave Levis plenty of time to adjust to the Rangers’ speed and buzz from a near-packed crowd.

“This is playoff time for us,” Sabers coach Don Granat said. It ended with a good save and a good play….we had to keep hunting.Thanks to us, dial in.”

The Sabers beat the Rangers 12-2 in the first 20 minutes and took a 1-0 lead at 11:20. A no-look pass from Dylan Cozens opened the net for Peterka, his 11th goal of the season. Then the Rangers push began.

Fans rose from their seats as Fox looked down at Levi with his puck on the blade of his stick. As recent Norris prepares to shoot for his trophy winner, Levi chases the puck towards the front of the net and uses his right pad Vincent to block his Trochek redirect. The crowd roared again.

“He was obviously great,” Samuelson said. “I think the biggest thing you’ll notice is how smooth he is and how well he reads the play. You can’t say that about every goalkeeper. Some goalkeepers are good at stopping pucks. There are goalkeepers who have the spirit of hockey and make it. They know what the play is playing out, so it looks easy.”

Sabers Rangers Hockey

Buffalo Sabers goaltender Devon Levy saves New York Rangers forward Adam Fox in the second period at the Keybank Center on Friday, March 31, 2023.

Harry Skull Jr./Buffalo News

Minutes later, Greenway gave Buffalo a two lead when the 6-foot-6 forward shielded the puck with his left arm, gripped the stick with one hand, and flicked the puck over Halak’s glove. After narrowing the lead to 2-1 with a goal late in the second period, Levis made the highlight reel and made a chaotic save to stop a Rangers winger’s one-timer that caused the crowd to chant.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Levi said of the chants. “Fans are unreal.”

The Rangers took over in the third period, crowding into the offensive zone and scoring chances. Levy stopped a shot at the crease and fought to prevent a rebound, accomplishing both when the Rangers scored back-to-back chances early in the third period. When he thought he covered the puck they tied it 2-2 only to see Fox knock it over the goal line. When Panarin had the puck on his stick, he was in position and had a chance to give the Rangers (44-21-11) the lead.

The debut was unexpected for those who don’t follow the Sabers closely, but it’s part of Levi’s goal of getting “a year’s worth of growth” in the final weeks of the season. His first start was against his team in the playoffs where he was 9-2-1 in his previous 12 games. In the first period when Chytil missed the net wide open, he analyzes the goal and his close call. Every moment is used to prepare for what is to come.

“I learned a lot from this match. I feel like this is my start.”I’m going to improve every day and hopefully help everyone in the playoffs.That’s my goal.I’m going to work as hard as I can to be ready for the call.If I get the call.” I’m going to do everything I can to give these guys the best chance of winning.

Other observations from the game are:

The Sabers haven’t seen many promising moments since Greenway arrived in the deadline day trade. He scored one goal in eight games before missing four with an upper body injury. His drive to the net in his second period on Friday should allay some concerns.

Greenway overpowered Ben Harper on his way to the net and somehow scored enough shots to score his fourth goal of the season. Greenway parked in front of the net on many shifts, helping to extend possession on forechecks, but also had some difficult moments as Granat missed time with an injury.

Peterka, Cozens and Jack Quinn were part of a starting line with an average age of just over 22 and controlled play for most shifts in the first period. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Sabers had four scoring chances in his first 20 minutes as he attempted seven shots in a 5-for-5 on-ice trio. Pieterka’s goals saw the rookie winger score 10 points in his last 10 games, while Cozens’ No Look his pass gave him 5 points in his last 5 games.

Pieterka and Quinn each had five shots, and Cozens nearly set up Alex Touch for the winner in overtime before Skinner scored.

This was another game that showed Samuelson’s importance to the Sabers. He finished in his 22:13 ice time, blocking two shots and helping to steal a penalty in the third period. A lineup timeout made it a difficult night for Samuelson. He said he hit a wall in the third period because he had no way to prepare to return to the game late in the regular season.

Samuelson has expressed frustration with another injury he has experienced this season, having recently missed 10 of his last 12 games, but is excited to be back with his teammates on and off the ice. rice field.

“I feel like I’m hurt all the time,” he lamented. “There’s also bad luck. There’s also the style of game I play. I know it’s going to be a whirlwind year and that’s fine, obviously, but you know me well – I miss you.” It’s so boring when you do.

“And I feel like I was back with the team for the last two days, joking around and being back in the locker room. Everyone was stoked when Dev came back. Those little things, you miss it so much.” Playing 50 games in a row midway through the season feels like a given. On the bench, I was yelling the whole time. Me was glad to be back.

Thompson, still grappling with an injury he suffered against New Jersey a week ago, didn’t skate on Friday morning and hasn’t been on the ice with his team since their victory over the New York Islanders. He has scored 44 goals, just one point away from becoming the first Saber to score 90 goals in a single season since Daniel Briere scored a total of 95 goals in the 2006-07 season.

Granert said there is a “small” chance Thompson will be able to play in Philadelphia on Saturday. Casey Mittelstadt has moved past Thompson into the center of the top line next to Tuch and Skinner.

Other scratches on the team were Riley Stillman, Cale Crag, Vinny Hinostroza, Craig Anderson and Ukko Pekka Rukkonen.

The Sabers will travel to Philadelphia to face the Flyers on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Devon Levi made his debut for the Sabers on Friday.

Lance Lisowski

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