Quick Hits: Sabres at Senators

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We all knew that Jack Eichel entering the Sabres lineup for the first time this season would certainly be a shot in their arm, but not many people could’ve expected what this game would end up being.

Early on in the first period, Buffalo’s first great offensive chance came following a high stick to Kyle Okposo. This minor penalty gave us the first look at Jack Eichel on the half wall, playing his off wing.

It took SEVEN seconds for the Sabres to score.

Eichel, in his new power play spot, found a trailing Kyle Okposo. As soon as Okposo received the tape-to-tape pass, he went to pass the puck off to Sam Reinhart out in front of the net, but instead shot the puck into the net off of a Senators defenseman’s skate.

Kyle Okposo’s 7th goal of the season from Eichel and Ristolainen, at 6:16 of the first period, put Buffalo up 1-0.

Minutes later, the Buffalo Sabres would find themselves on the power play again and shockingly, the result was the same.

Quarterbacking the power play at the blue line, Ryan O’Reilly looked to dish the puck off for a one-timer. No one better to take that shot than Jack Eichel.

From the half wall, Eichel unleashed an absolute laser shot that blew past Craig Anderson.

Jack Eichel’s 1st goal of the season, at 9:31 of the first period, pushed Buffalo’s lead to 2-0.

Buffalo’s 2-goal lead would not last for too long, though

Derick Brassard launched a pass across the Senators offensive zone to Mark Stone, who almost immediately took a shot on goal. Robin Lehner made the immediate save but that save turned into a juicy rebound, which ended up right on the stick of Mike Hoffman.

Hoffman made no mistake, collecting his 5th goal of the season at 13:47 of the first, cutting Buffalo’s lead in half.

As the hockey saying goes, the most important shift after a goal is the next one. Well, Buffalo took that literally and upped their lead back to 2 goals.

31 seconds after the Hoffman goal, a Josh Gorges point shot appeared to deflect off of William Carrier. Ryan O’Reilly grabbed that Carrier deflection and backhanded the puck past Craig Anderson. Buffalo’s lead moved to 3-1 at 14:18 of the first period.

Also important, this tweet below. I need some new pants.

Not all news is good news tonight though. Robin Lehner exited the game with 2:12 left in first. More on that developing story below.

Ottawa needed to change their identity heading into the second period, to turn the offensive tides in their favor. As the period began and started to progress, it was clear that Ottawa had the ice tilted in their direction.

It certainly helped Ottawa’s efforts that Buffalo’s defensive zone play deteriorated as the period progressed.

A Mike Hoffman shot would again affect the overall flow of this game. Hoffman’s shot deflected off of Anders Nilsson, which Nilsson thought it went out of play.

In the real world, the puck bounced off of Kyle Turris in front of the net. Mark Stone realized the puck was loose and grabbed the puck, putting it past Nilsson. Stone’s 7th goal of the season, at 8:20 of the second period, cut Buffalo’s lead to 3-2.

Midway through the second period, Ottawa appeared to have tied the game but the goal was called back after a successful coaches challenge from Dan Bylsma. Review showed that Chris Neil interfered with Anders Nilsson, making him unable to make an attempt at a save.

Late in the period, Buffalo would regain momentum with another goal.

An Evander Kane shot on goal, at a weird angle, would somehow find its way to Sam Reinhart. The shot would deflect off Reinhart’s left skate and past Craig Anderson.

Reinhart’s 5th goal of the season, at 17:08 of the second period, pushed Buffalo’s lead back to 2 goals and up to 4-2.

43 seconds later, Ottawa would respond in impressive fashion.

Mark Stone unleashed a very nice tape to tape pass to the stick of Erik Karlsson. With the slightest of hesitations, Karlsson unleashed a shot on net. Mike Hoffman found himself in the right place at the right time, as he tipped the Karlsson shot past Nilsson without issue.

Hoffman’s 6th of the season and 2nd of the game, at 17:51 of the second period, again cut Buffalo’s lead to one goal.

After 40 minutes of hockey, Buffalo clinged to a very slim 4-3 lead.

Buffalo would hold onto the lead throughout the third period, even tacking on an extra goal on a late power play opportunity.

A Kyle Okposo shot on goal created a rebound, which was immediately deflected by Sam Reinhart. After the Reinhart deflection, Ryan O’Reilly tapped the loose puck into the net.

O’Reilly’s 6th of the season and 2nd of the game, at 16:43 of the third period, pushed Buffalo’s lead to 5-3.

Ottawa would not be done there, though. The Senators pulled their goaltender after getting on the power play.

Dion Phaneuf and the Senators just decided to keep feeding Mike Hoffman, who was absolutely on fire in this game. Hoffman unleashed a wicked one-timer, which beat Anders Nilsson.

Hoffman’s 7th goal of the season and 3rd of the game, at 18:29 of the third period, once again cut Buffalo’s lead to one goal.

Despite their insistence on sitting back in the third period, Buffalo was able to pull out a very impressive 5-4 victory in regulation.

With this victory, the Buffalo Sabres move to 8-9-5 on the season with 21 points. Buffalo moves to within a point of 14th place in the Eastern Conference.

Buffalo heads back to the KeyBank Center to host one of the Eastern Conference’s best in the New York Rangers, on Thursday night. Puck drops shortly after 7 PM, with the game being broadcast locally on MSG.

Gimme them quick hits, mister.

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    • Eichel Tonight
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it all of us.

For the first time in 21 games (or all season – depending on how dramatic you want to be), Jack Eichel will be in the Buffalo Sabres lineup.

As you may painfully recall, Eichel suffered a high ankle sprain on October 12th, days before the start of the current NHL season. Eichel was originally expected to miss 6-8 weeks and ended up missing just a shade under 7 weeks. Pointed out today on The Instigators, Martin Biron mentioned November 30 marks 7 weeks since the injury.

The most exciting part about Eichel’s return? Scoring gets spread back out throughout the entire lineup.

Heading into tonight’s game, we saw William Carrier take a spot on the top line with Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo. Jack Eichel slots in-between Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart. Foligno / Larsson / Gionta sticks together on the third line and there is a fourth line of Girgensons / Grant / Moulson. This is a great development.

Jack Eichel can’t be expected to be the franchise savior again but his skill back in the lineup should inject some life into this team. Eichel will score goals, but it is going to take a lot more than Jack Eichel to fix a league-worst 1.81 goals-per-game.

Eichel was pretty good tonight – 17:01 time on ice, 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist), 5 shots.

    • Lehner hurt

Postgame, Dan Bylsma says the Lehner is “day-to-day” with a hip injury. Oh joy!

    • Beyond Blue and Gold

    • To be a fly on the wall..

“Yo, it’s Mr. Steal Yo Girl..”

    • Tweet of Game

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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