Former Kootenay Ice goaltender Nathan Lieuwen returned the the crease for his first career start with the Buffalo Sabres in a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night.
Lieuwen was solid in goal despite defeat, making 23 saves, while Mike Cammalleri, Paul Byron and Joe Colburne scored for the Flames. Drew Stafford opened the scoring with the lone effort for the Sabres, as Buffalo only put a meagre 14 shots on Flames goaltender Joni Ortio.
Even though Lieuwen came up with some big saves, Calgary seemed to have a bit of luck on their side with a few goals.
“Tough bounces, right?” Lieuwen told Aaron Vickers of NHL.com. “That’s part of hockey is the bounces. Sometimes players make good plays and you tip your cap but at the same time you always want to get better to see what you can do to get better.”
Stafford put the Sabres in the lead with a wraparound in the first period after a giveaway by Flames forward Ben Hanowski.
Calgary opened it up in the second period with a flurry of offensive chances, but Lieuwen stood turned away every shot. Though Sabres head coach Ted Nolan took a timeout to calm things down, Colborne knotted the game up for the Flames with just over a minute remaining in the period.
Cammalleri tipped a shot while stationed in front of Lieuwen in the third frame to pull the Flames ahead for a one-goal lead at 9:16. Four minutes later, Byron scored a back-breaking goal on a shorthanded breakaway to put the game out of reach for Buffalo.
Though it was his first start, Lieuwen had played for just over a period in his NHL debut on Sunday, stopping all 10 shots after replacing Jhonas Enroth who was injured mid-game during a 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
“It felt really good to get on the ice and be in that atmosphere,” Lieuwen said. “That experience, it was incredible.”