The Buffalo Sabres were back to work on Friday night in Buffalo, trying to shake off a current six-game losing streak. The Sabres would play host the the Carolina Hurricanes for their first meeting of the 2015-16 season.
In the first period, the Sabres were out-shot 11-3 by the Hurricanes, and arguably played the sloppiest period of the season.
However, at the 8:57 mark of the first, Josh Gorges threw a bouncing puck towards the net that just squeaks through Hurricanes goalie, Cam Ward. The goal was originally credited to David Legwand, but during the first intermission it was reviewed further, and Gorges was given the goal. It was Gorges’ first NHL since October 21, 2013 when he was a member of the Montréal Canadiens.
In the second period, the Hurricanes get the equalizing goal thanks to a Brian Gionta giveaway and it was Victor Rask who gobbled up the lose puck off the original chance from Eric Staal.
About seven and a half minutes later, it was the Jack Eichel Show as he capitalizes off a Carolina turnover in the neutral zone. Eichel took the puck in himself, and ripped a shot top shelf, and far side on Ward to give the Sabres a 2-1 advantage.
Eichel goal, 2-1 Sabres pic.twitter.com/aMu2ZuxUr3
— Stephanie (@myregularface) November 28, 2015
Just before the second period ended, the Sabres would add on to its lead thanks to a beautiful passing play from Gionta and Matt Moulson. Gionta took the puck from the Buffalo zone and dropped off a pass to Moulson, and as Gionta was streaking to the net, Moulson threw the puck back towards the net. Gionta tipped the puck off the goal post, where it bounced off of Ward’s back and into the net.
To begin the third period, the Hurricanes made a switch in net going to Eddie Lack.
Buffalo would limit Carolina to just five shots on goal in the third period, and would add another goal courtesy of David Legwand. Chad Johnson played well in net, stopping 27 of 28 shots on goal in Buffalo’s 4-1 win on home ice, and snap the team’s six-game losing streak.
Here are some quick hits from Friday night’s win:
- Sabres finally found scoring touch
It was an ugly five-game stretch for the Sabres, as they were not only able to buy a win, but the team also could not score.
In the five games, the Sabres only scored seven goals, and were shut out once in Dallas at the hand of the Stars. On Friday, Buffalo got four.
Buffalo got some contributions from guys who are not known for their scoring prowess. For Gorges, it was his first goal in over two years, and only the 15th goal of his career. David Legwand found the back of the net once again for the Sabres, as he netted his second goal in three games.
For a team that went into Friday night’s game averaging just 2.05 goals per game, a four goal night will certainly help boost those number.
- Eichel shoots lasers
The Sabres’ 19-year old rookie wows the crowd once again. After ending a six-game goalless drought on Wednesday night, Eichel added another goal to his total on Friday.
Eichel ripped a beautiful shot on the far side of Ward to put Buffalo ahead for good more than halfway through the second period.
Eichel’s goal on Friday was his eighth goal of the year, which is now good for the team high surpassing Ryan O’Reilly for the team lead. Eichel’s goal was also his second game-winning goal of the season. That total puts in a tie for the most on the team with Sam Reinhart.
If Eichel keeps shooting pucks the way he has been lately, he could be putting plenty of puck in the back of the net before the season is over.
- Johnson making goaltending decision tougher
While the Sabres have been having issues scoring goals, their goaltending situation is not an issue at this point.
Linus Ullmark has been playing well in his time in net for the Sabres, but Chad Johnson has been playing just as well.
In Johnson’s last six appearances, he has a 2-1-1 record with a 1.34 goals against average, and a .952 save-percentage. Johnson looks like he has fixed his rebound control issues, and looks more comfortable in net with every game he plays. Along the way, Johnson has made some highlight reel saves to help keep the Sabres in games where they may have trailed by multiple goals.
When Robin Lehner returns to the net, it may be a difficult decision to decide who goes to Rochester or or stays in Buffalo. It would be easier to send Ullmark back since he would not have to clear waivers, but both goalies are playing phenomenal hockey.
- Gionta struggling, even with his goal
Ok sure, he scored a goal, and his first goal in six games, but Gionta has surely struggled lately on the ice.
Maybe it is just bad luck, or maybe Gionta has struggled to keep up with the pace of play.
In the second period, Gionta made a couple of really bad plays with the puck that gave the Hurricanes a scoring chance. One of those plays resulted in a goal to tie the game for the Hurricanes.
In past games, Gionta has been mishandling pucks, turning over the puck, and missing the net really bad when he decides to shoot the puck. Gionta is shooting at 4.6% this season with only two goals on 43 shots in 20 games. Gionta is also averaging nearly 19-minutes of ice-time per game this season. Not good totals for the Sabres’ captain.
Maybe the goal he scored on Friday will turn the tides for the 36-year old veteran. Gionta needs to adjust his game somehow, or else he may find himself eating popcorn in the press box.