It was the second game in consecutive nights for the Buffalo Sabres, and it was the second game against the Philadelphia Flyers in four nights.
The Sabres came out flying after Thursday night’s 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It remained scoreless in the first period, until 19-year old rookie Jack Eichel put the Sabres on the board with less than a minute to go in the period.
In the second period, Ryan O’Reilly continues to play very well for the Sabres as he gets Buffalo ahead by two on the powerplay. The Sabres would out-shoot the Flyers in the second period 31-14, and head into the locker room with a 2-0 lead.
In the third period, O’Reilly was at it again with a beautiful saucer pass over to Nick Deslauriers that he put home to give the Sabres a 3-0 lead. Mark Streit would break Linus Ullmark’s shutout at the 16:34 mark of the third period, but Ullmark stood tall in the net and stopped 14 third period shots to solidify his first career win in the National Hockey League.
In case you missed all the action, here is what you may have missed:
- That Eichel kid can play
It seems like all the kid does is make plays and score goals.
Eichel registered his fourth goal of the season late in the first period to put Buffalo up 1-0, and send the fans in a frenzy.
Jack Eichel puts the Sabres up 1-0 pic.twitter.com/pUJVxBUNKk
— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 30, 2015We love shots (on goal)
Eichel would go on to finish the game with his goal, a team-leading six shots on goal, and three hits in 17:23 of total ice-time.
Also, Eichel would take a stick to the chin late in the third period, which required stitches following the game. Eichel is not expected to miss a beat though, as now Eichel is tied with O’Reilly for the team lead in goals with four.
- Shots! (on goal)
On Thursday night, the Sabres put up an astounding 53 shots on goal in its loss to the Penguins. On Friday, the team put up 36 shots on the Flyers. In just two games, the Sabres have put up 89 shots on goal, which adds on to the 372 total shots on goal through the first eleven games of the season.
As for right now, the Sabres are tops in the NHL for average shots on goal per game with 33.8. The only team who was better than the Sabres before Friday night was the Flyers, who now average 33.4 shots on goal per game.
The Sabres will next travel to Brooklyn to take on the Islanders, who are averaging a shots against average of 32.6 shots. Buffalo is currently fifth in the NHL for the fewest shots against average in the NHL, only giving up an average of 26.9 shots per game.
- Ryan O’Reilly on a tear
After a shaky start to the season, going pointless in his first two games, Ryan O’Reilly has been tearing up the NHL.
In the past nine games, O’Reilly has scored four goals and added nine assists, and is currently riding a five-game point streak.
“He didn’t necessarily start the way he wanted to,” said Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma. “Before tonight’s game, he was at a point a game. Now he’s excelled that.”
Friday’s game, in particular, he had a point on every goal the Sabres scored, including his second period tally which would end up being the game-winning goal.
“I don’t know if I’m surprised, that’s kind of as advertised.,” Bylsma said. “I’m more surprised at his other areas and facets of his games. We leaned on him for 35-plus draws tonight… We needed him on the ice at the end of the game for the penalty kill. He’s been big for us in a lot of areas, not just getting points.”
In the third period, O’Reilly would set up Nick Deslauriers on a beautiful pass to put the icing on the cake for the Sabres in the win.
“He’s a hell of a player,” Deslauriers said. “Just that pass, I did not even have to do much. That’s two goals in a row I didn’t need to do much. He’s just an amazing player, he works hard, and it’s kind of a thing to build off him.”
Even with playing on a line with Deslauriers and Marcus Foligno, O’Reilly is, arguably, Buffalo’s best player on the ice. And the Sabres rely heavily on the 24-year old center.
O’Reilly finished Friday night with his three points, three shots, a blocked shot, and was 56-percent on his face-offs in 26:03 of total ice-time. The next closest ice-time to O’Reilly on the night was Rasmus Ristolainen, who played 23:49 of total ice-time.
“I maybe rode him a little hard tonight with how much I played him,” Bylsma said. “He was the best player on the ice in pretty much every situation tonight, and coming up big for us.”
The Sabres hope to have O’Reilly’s linemate, Tyler Ennis back soon, who continues to nurse an upper-body injury. But if O’Reilly continues to play the way he has over the past several games, Buffalo should be just fine.
- Time to let Bowser loose
Linus Ullmark was a 6th round pick of the Sabres in the 2012 NHL Draft. He spent the past two years playing for MODO in the Swedish Hockey League.
At age 20, Ullmark won the Honken Trophy as the SHL’s Goalie of the Year. Only two other goalies have won the Honken Trophy before the age of 22: Jakob Markstrom (20 – 2010), and Henrik Lundqvist (21 – 2003).
This year was Ullmark’s first season playing in North America, and he was not expected to see the NHL at all this season. However, he is up with the Sabres, and got his first career win in only his second career game.
“He’s gonna have a lot of opportunities,” said Deslauriers. “He’s a hell of a goalie, and we’re all happy for him.”
Asides from the late third period goal from Flyers defenseman, Mark Streit, Ullmark stopped 27 Philadelphia shots on goal, and he looked more solid in net than he did in his first start last Saturday against the New Jersey Devils.
With Chad Johnson struggling in net for the Sabres right now, it may be time to let Ullmark take the crease and show what he can bring to the future of the Sabres. If Ullmark continues to put up efforts like Friday night, Johnson may not see the net as much as he has this season.
- Jake McCabe is here to stay
It was a tough decision for Dan Bylsma to send Jake McCabe back to Rochester to begin the 2015-16 season. But since his recall on October 12, McCabe has shown that he has earned a permanent spot on the Sabres defense.
Through nine games this season, McCabe has scored twice, and has averaged nearly 17-minutes of total ice-time per game.
What has made McCabe look so good this season is his cool, calm demeanor on the blue line. McCabe has skated well with the puck, and he has not panicked with the puck on his stick when stuck in a tough spot.
Over the past few games, McCabe has seen some ice-time on both the powerplay and the penalty kill.
McCabe has also been physical with opposing players around the net and along the boards. McCabe has done a good job keeping opposing players away from the front of the net, and has put up 15 hits.
There is no way Sabres general manager, Tim Murray can possibly send down McCabe at this point of his game.
Once Zach Bogosian returns from injury, Buffalo may have to place a guy like Carlo Colaiacovo or Mike Weber on waivers to make room for Bogosian. It would just be foolish to send McCabe back to the Rochester Americans with his game at his best right now.
It is not like we dislike Mike Weber, he is just not good at all.