Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) – The Sabres started Saturday right where they left off on Tuesday, playing fast and hard. The first period was the Jack Eichel show as he came flying through the neutral zone and went past Radko Gudas like he was stuck on concrete. Eichel ripped one into the far corner on Anthony Stolarz to give Buffalo the lead just 4:04 in.
Lawrence Pilut’s family is in Buffalo to see him play and they got to see his first NHL point when he saw Eichel at the side of the net and sent a puck his way that Eichel could deflect in giving him four goals in his last four periods.
The Sabres had some great chances just a few minutes later, but Stolarz stopped both Nate Beaulieu and Casey Mittelstadt down the slot.
Tage Thompson put a double deke on Ivan Provorov allowing him to walk in, but Stolarz just got his arm on the shot sending it wide.
Philadelphia is one of the best faceoff teams in the NHL and Claude Giroux won one clean to James van Riemsdyk who got rid of the puck immediately to cut the lead in half.
The Sabres got their mojo back in the final three or four minutes of the period and Conor Sheary missed a golden opportunity to make it 3-1. Phil Housley thought missing all these chances is what didn’t allow them to put the game away.
The shots in the period were 17-15 which shows how wide open and entertaining it was.
In the second period, Eichel had a chance to get the two-goal lead back when he walked in alone. He got the rebound and found a wide open Kyle Okposo, but he was robbed by the glove of Stolarz.
The Sabres really got running around in their defensive zone led by Matt Tennyson and it cost them the lead. Despite being severely outplayed in the second, they still got out of the period tied.
Ullmark made a couple of unbelievable saves including one on Jakub Voracek on the power play.
With Eichel’s two goals he now has 17 points in his last 12 games. Reinhart had one assist to give him points in six straight games and 19 points in his last 17 games. Jeff Skinner’s assist gives him 30 points in his last 25 games.
Buffalo finally got its first power play to start the third period, but it put them behind. Reinhart made a real sloppy play along the wall handing the puck to Giroux. He walked in 3-on-1 and gave his team its first lead of the game.
Things just got worse after that. Just like they did in the second period, the Flyers started getting in on the Sabres defense and they responded by running around. After a schmazle in front, Wayne Simmons banked one in off of Zach Bogosian and then Michael Raffl easily out battled Tennyson to find a wide open Dale Weise who scored.
Next thing we knew it was 6-2 as there was no coverage at all when Giroux found Travis Konecny for a tip in.
Buffalo certainly didn’t look like a rested team after the first 20 minutes. It’s been a long time since they caved in like they did in this one to lose their fifth straight game.
I’ve been saying it since he got hurt, this team is really missing Jake McCabe on defense. The game in the NHL is too fast for Tennyson and some guys are playing way more minutes than they can handle.
After the game Eichel said the team has stopped doing the things that made them successful. The captain said, “You can just expect to go out and win. It takes a lot of hard work. We have to get back to what’s made us successful, we’ve had too many lapses”
The captain added, “That streak we were on, that means nothing now, we haven’t worked really, they out-worked us for 40 minutes. We get a couple of days off and that’s the product we put on the ice? They (the fans) wanted it more.”
I couldn’t have evaluated the game any better than Phil Housley did, “Once we got the two goal lead we thought it was going to be easy.
“In the defensive zone we didn’t work for each other.”
The team gets two more practices in before the Los Angeles Kings come to town. Eichel seemed annoyed the 10 game winning streak was brought up because he feels it’s over and they’ve done nothing. I liked hearing that attitude from the captain.