Quick Hits: Blue Jackets vs. Sabres

It was another matinee game for the Sabres on Columbus Day Monday, and this time it was to close out a three-game home-stand against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Sabres and Blue Jackets got out to a sluggish start in the first period, scoring no goals and both teams struggling on offense and the powerplay.

In the second period, the Sabres broke a scoreless tie with a powerplay goal by Rasmus Ristolainen. The Sabres would out shoot the Jackets 16-8 in the second period, and out played the Jackets on both ends of the ice.

As for the third period, the Sabres would never let the lead go as the team would add on three more goals in the period. Ryan O’Reilly notched his first career goal with the Sabres on the powerplay on a nice pass from Matt Moulson. The Jackets would cut the lead to one, but then Jack Eichel would scored his second career goal to put the Sabres up 3-1. Another Blue Jackets goal would bring Columbus to within one again, but Matt Moulson would put the game away with a powerplay goal with 4:13 left to go in the game to put the Sabres up 4-2.

It is Buffalo’s first win of the season, and it was a nice way to close out the three-game home-stand. With the win, the team showed a lot of great positives that we have been waiting to see from the team.

    • Buffalo’s offense comes alive

The Sabres may have had a bad start in the first period, but Buffalo would have an exciting final 40-minutes of hockey. In the end, the Sabres would put up a total of 33 shots on goal, with defenseman Cody Franson leading the team with six shots. The team were not only getting shots to the net, but getting quality shots on goal and challenged Columbus goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky.

Some of the newcomers from this past offseason were also getting in on the action.

O’Reilly had his first breakout game as a Sabre as he had a goal, added an assist, and registered five shots on goal in 20:35 of total ice-time. O’Reilly played Monday’s game at left wing with Zemgus Girgensons in the middle and Tyler Ennis on the right side. It was the first time O’Reilly had played on the wing in his three games played this year, and he looked more efficient playing on the wing.

Evander Kane also got in on the action once again, registering an assist on Ristolainen’s goal in the second period. Kane was busy putting up three shots on goal, and creating plays on the ice for linemates Eichel and Marcus Foligno.

It has become apparent that with the newest acquisitions, the current roster players have thrived on the team’s improvements.

One of those players is Matt Moulson. Moulson finished the game with his third period goal, along with two assists and three shots on goal in 14:16 of total ice-time.

Rasmus Ristolainen also joined in on the action as he scored, had an assist, and had four shots on goal.

Tyler Ennis was held scoreless, however he did provide some offense with four shots on goal.

    • Jack Eichel coming into his own

It was a breakout game for Jack Eichel on Monday, as he scored a goal that has to be a “Goal of the Year” candidate at this point of the season. Eichel tried a pass into the slot that was blocked, but chased down the loose puck, kept the puck in the zone and away from Columbus forward Boone Jenner, found some open space, and put a shot top-shelf on the far-side of Bobrovsky to give the Sabres a 3-1 lead.

Besides Eichel’s goal, he had two shots on goal, a hit, and was 42-percent on his faceoffs in 18:01 of total ice-time. Eichel was also playing smart hockey as he was making plays with Kane and Foligno to create offensive chances, and was also playing some really smart defensive hockey.

On Monday, Eichel did not look like an 18-year old rookie in the NHL, but looked like a mature veteran who played some smart and disciplined hockey. It is only the beginning for Eichel, who is projected to have a great rookie season with the Sabres.

    • Jake McCabe may stay in Buffalo

It was Jake McCabe’s birthday on Monday, and what a birthday it was. The 22-year old defenseman was called up prior to Monday’s game, played on a pairing with his old defensive pair-mate, Mark Pysyk.

McCabe may not have logged a lot of ice-time, 12:27 to be exact, but he skated very well and looked as though he belonged in the NHL. Him and Pysyk were moving the puck efficiently, and were key in advancing the puck down ice to begin an offensive rush.

McCabe was called up because Carlo Colaiacovo was not ready to play in Monday’s game. Head coach Dan Bylsma has been impressed with McCabe’s game, but the extra time in Rochester would not do any harm to the young defenseman. After Monday’s game, it should be considered that McCabe sticks with the Sabres and get him some ice-time with Pysyk instead of heading back to the Rochester Americans.

    • Sam Reinhart likely bound for Rochester

Going into the beginning of the 2015-16 season, many people had thought that Sam Reinhart was going to be ready to play a full season with the Sabres. Through the first three games, Reinhart has struggled, and has been bumped around the lineup. Reinhart does have an assist so far this preseason, however his production has not been up to par.

On Monday, Reinhart only played 9:58 of total ice-time and only registered a hit. He did provide the screen in front of Bobrovsky on Ristolainen’s goal in the second, but he has had issues connecting on passes and playing the puck.

When Brian Gionta returns from his lower-body injury, the consensus seems to be that Reinhart will go down to Rochester to work on his game and see if he can figure out his issues with the Amerks. It may be more beneficial to play in Rochester rather than to just sit in the press box and not get the ice-time.

Reinhart will figure his game out, and he will be a valuable asset for the Sabres on the ice. Right now, Reinhart has some nitches in his game that he needs to polish. Being sent to the Amerks could be the best thing for Reinhart at this point in his young career.

Written by Brayton Wilson

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