It was a chaotic day in Buffalo sports overshadowed by uncertainty. The day started with the news that Buffalo Sabres forward Ryan O'Reilly would be out indefinitely after undergoing an appendectomy. About 15 minutes later, the O'Reilly news took a back seat to the firing of Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan. All day fans vented on social media and around the water cooler about both Buffalo sports teams. There's still plenty of reason to get on your soap box and vent, but on Tuesday night the Sabres gave fans a reason to smile, knocking off the Detroit Red Wings 4-3. Five observations from Tuesday's win:
Win they had to have
There's no denying the Sabres have struggled as of late. On Tuesday they snapped a four game skid, getting back in the win column, against a team they were chasing in the standings. After the game Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said the team came out strong in the first period and that sparked them for the rest of the game. In the third Buffalo surrendered their one goal lead -- but battled back thanks to a nice give and go between Evander Kane and Brian Gionta. If Buffalo is going to climb up the standings they'll need to start winning more games (duh) but they have a golden chance with two games back to back against the Boston Bruins later in the week. Buffalo is currently six points behind Boston but have three less games played.
A first period goal...wait, what?
The Sabres scored a goal in the first period. As a matter of fact, they scored two! Prior to Tuesday, the Sabres hadn't scored a goal in the first period in their last seven games. During that same span, the Sabres had allowed the first goal in every game -- so obviously this was a trend that needed to be snapped. For a team that has trouble scoring, playing from behind can't be something that happens regularly from here on out -- or they'll be in some serious trouble.
With Ryan O'Reilly out of the lineup the Sabres needed their stars to step up and on Tuesday they did. Evander Kane opened up the scoring for the Sabres (and got the winner, but we'll get to that), Sam Reinhart scored Buffalo's second of the evening & Jack Eichel added a goal and an assist. O'Reilly, even after missing six games, was the Sabres fourth leading scorer -- so someone will have to step up for the Sabres during his absence. All season scoring has been an issue for the Sabres (no kidding), so it's nice to see the guys who are supposed to score all find the back of the net in the same game.
Oh hey, Jack Eichel
Don't get me wrong -- Jack Eichel failing to produce is still better than 90 % of the players in the NHL, but on Tuesday something clicked for the 20-year-old. In the second period, Eichel pranced up and down the ice like a gazelle, something we've grown used to watching ESPECIALLY when he starts playing with confidence. His sixth goal of the season was absolutely gorgeous, freezing former Sabre Thomas Vanek like a traffic cone before cutting in front and roofing a wrister.
Here's your stat of the day:
When Eichel has scored a point in his career the Sabres are 29-14-4. When he has two or more the Sabres are 12-3-1. In 13 games since returning from injury Eichel has 10 points (6G, 4A). Over the span of his young career we've seen Eichel score in bunches, so Tuesday is a good sign.
Not to be outdone by Eichel, Evander Kane is playing some of his best hockey as a member of the Sabres. After a slow start, Kane is stringing together some solid performances and scoring some big goals for the blue and gold. In Buffalo's last ten games Kane has eight points, including seven goals and is on pace to score 25 goals, which is certainly not terrible when you consider his snail paced start. The best part? On his second goal of the evening, Kane didn't shoot the puck high and wide like we've seen so many times.
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