Quick Hits: Sabres vs. Avalanche

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The temperature was cold outside in downtown Buffalo this afternoon, but inside the First Niagara Center, the Sabres were red hot.

After putting up 6 goals last time out, the Buffalo Sabres looked to continue their offensive successes and do something that this franchise has not done since 2005, which is beating Colorado at home.

Buffalo would not wait long to warm up the First Niagara Center with a goal, and who else could it be? Jack Eichel, of course.

Eichel grabbed the puck back in the Sabres defensive zone, galloped down the far wing and well, the rest is history at this point. Take a look below and just bask in the amazing talent that is Jack Eichel.

What an absolute laser past Varlamov, that shot should be illegal. Eichel’s 17th of the season, at 2:02 of the first period. No better way to explain it than how our pal Matthew Coller did.

Eichel’s goal made head coach Dan Bylsma very happy.

“He’s has better opportunities to score on than that, but that’s a great example of what he can do,” said Bylsma. “Attack on his speed there and being an aggressive shooter

The Sabres offense would continue to turn up the heat on the Avalanche, on what seemed like a harmless play.

Evander Kane just eclipsed the blue line and he fired what appeared to be a harmless wrist shot. Either Semyon Varlamov had a hole in his glove (potentially) or was not in the right place to be expecting the shot (likely).

Either way, the goal counts. Kane’s 16th of the season, at 4:42 of the second, put the Sabres up 2-0. Colorado head coach Patrick Roy pulled the chute at this point and swapped goaltenders. From here on out, Calvin Pickard would man the net for the Avalanche.

With all the offense happening early, many wondered if the Sabres could continue to lay it on Colorado.

A well-placed Ryan O’Reilly shot found Sam Reinhart, who was stationed in the perfect spot. O’Reilly’s shot was tipped by Reinhart and past Pickard for the Sabres’ third goal of the game.

Reinhart’s goal goes in as his 17th of the season, at 17:14 of the first.

Many hoped Buffalo would come out for the second, ready to build off their first period success. Unfortunately, that would not be the case. It seemed to most that Buffalo had decided to sit on the lead, because they found themselves absolutely over matched in the second.

Colorado would also find their way on the score sheet in the second period. Erik Johnson would put home a nice pass from ex-Sabres forward Mikhail Grigorenko. Johnson’s 8th of the season, at 2:35 of the second, would pull Colorado within two.

It is no joke when you look at the stats, Colorado manhandled Buffalo in the second period. 11-4 were the shots and Buffalo found themselves very lucky to get out of the period with just one goal allowed.

The third period would be the true test for this Sabres team who, as previously mentioned, love to sit back on leads and let other teams hang around.

For entertainment purposes, the Sabres decided to also let the Avalanche hang around in the third period. Talk about insane levels of stress for all parties involved.

Sam Reinhart discussed the growing reality postgame of the Sabres sitting back. “We’d like to get better with the lead,”said Reinhart. “Not sitting back and taking it back to them a little more.”

Buffalo often found themselves in their defensive zone, fighting off a pressing Colorado offense. The Sabres bent but most certainly did not break.

With about 6 minutes left, arguable the most important point of the game began. Buffalo found themselves ready to kill off the second half Zemgus Girgensons’ double-minor when Josh Gorges was called for a penalty.

Zach Bogosian had arguably the play that killed all of Colorado’s momentum. As Jarome Iginla grabbed a rebound and looked to put the puck past Robin Lehner, Bogosian lifted Iginla’s stick and cleared the puck out of the zone.

“We knew we had to be smart, they’ve got a lot of skilled players over there,” said Ryan O’Reilly. “We knew we couldn’t just stand around and be casual.”

Although they were outshot 13-6 in the final frame, Buffalo held on for the impressive 4-1 victory.

This marks Buffalo’s first home winning streak since December

The Sabres regular season record 23-28-6 with 52 points in 57 games. Buffalo takes the ice again Tuesday night when they are on the road to take on the Ottawa Senators.

Now, the quick hits..

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    • Still mad about losing?

If you’re bummed about losing a lot these past few years, shake the dust off and take a look at today’s highlights.

What a goal from Jack Eichel. What hand/eye coordination from Sam Reinhart at the goal mouth. You can’t sign or trade for talents like these in today’s NHL. You have to be bad, people.

Amazing to see these two develop before our eyes. As previously mentioned, they both scored their 17th goal respectively today.

The Sabres haven’t had two rookie 20-goal scorers in over 40 years. Eichel and Reinhart are a few solid shifts away from crushing that drought.

The future is so bright, I have to wear shades.

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    • Lehner bounces back.

After allowing 9 goals in his last 80:22 of ice time, Robin Lehner looked for a strong performance this afternoon.

Judging by the way the recap has gone, and the title of this quick hit, we’re about to have a good discussion.

Robin Lehner was a wall for the Buffalo Sabres this afternoon. 34 saves on 35 shots, with many of those shots being under duress. Lehner likes to give us hints of how good he can be with performances like he had today.

As the Sabres get better, so should Lehner. If he can tap into that potential, we could be seeing a long-term answer in goal for Buffalo. Yes, I’m overreacting but that’s what I am supposed to do. I blog to overreact.

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    • Grigorenko returns to Buffalo.

He looked OK and even had a nice assist. Didn’t get cool return video though because he’s not important. Although, he might be part of one of the biggest trades in Sabres history. We’ll let time determine that one.

I’ll always remember Grigorenko as the guy we never knew how old he actually was, with all the potential in the world but he just couldn’t get it together enough. Sounds like Marcus Foligno. *sighs*

    • valentine’s day is stupid.

Feelings are dumb too, but kanye’s new album “the life of pablo” is absolute fire. I have listened three times and working on my fourth as I type this sentence. Give it a listen through and get back to me.

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Written by Ryan Wolfe

Ryan Wolfe is the founder and editor-in-chief of BLTD Sports. He can be heard on the BLTD Podcast. Ryan's writing is also featured over at TheHockeyWriters.com.

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