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5 Observations: Blackhawks top Sabres in OT 4-3

5 Observations: Blackhawks top Sabres in OT 4-3
Posted at 11:56 PM, Jan 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-06 00:11:22-05

Surprise surprise, Buffalo native Patrick Kane was the guy to score the game winning goal in over time. It's like we've seen this movie before! The Buffalo Sabres coughed up a late third period lead, losing in extra time to the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3.

Five observations from Thursday's loss:

Collapsing late

Don't get me wrong -- the Blackhawks were the better team -- but when you have a lead in the third period you have to protect it. This season we've seen the Sabres squander several late leads, eventually losing in overtime or in a shootout. This is really nothing new, but that's the problem, especially for a team that needs every possible point they can get. That being said, the Sabres did get a point on the road against a good team, so at least there's a small victory to be had.

Welcome to the Jack Eichel show

Eichel was on fire tonight. His one-timer in the third period to give the Sabres the 3-2 lead was an absolute cannon. What was even more impressive was his contributions on the Sabres first two goals of the night.

On Buffalo's first Eichel was the one who pressured the defender, allowing Marcus Foligno a clean look at the net. Buffalo's second of the evening came from Kyle Okposo on the power play, and yet again, Eichel was the man to tie up the defenders stick and allow Okposo to poke the puck in.

Eichel now has points in five straight game,s and has six total during that span (3G, 3A). He's backkkkkk.

Oh hey, Ryan O'Reilly

Think the Sabres missed Ryan O'Reilly? Yeah, me too. On Thursday O'Reilly added two helpers and was one of the Sabres better players at both ends of the ice.

Lately Buffalo's power play has struggled -- but tonight they went 2-for-3 with O'Reilly on the ice. So is the power play success a coincidence? I think not.

Nifty Nilsson

Sure, Anders Nilsson let in four goals, but he had himself a great game. Early on Nilsson bailed out the Sabres when they couldn't get anything going, stopping 19 of Chicago's 20 first period shots.

Nilsson is now 6-3-4 this season, and while I'm not going to say he needs to be the starter, I will stand on my soap box and proclaim that Nilsson deserves more games. Ideally, I'd like to see the goaltenders split games until Nilsson cools off. That's not meant to be a knock on Robin Lehner, he's been solid this season too, but I'm a fan of riding the hot hand.

Slow start

Somehow, someway, the Sabres opened up scoring courtesy of Marcus Foligno, but don't let that fool you, the first period was all Blackhawks. After the first 20 minutes Chicago was outshooting Buffalo 20-6.

This is even more startling -- the Blackhawks had 34 shot attempts to only 12 attempts from the Sabres. I can't remember the last time a team had 20 shots in a period, so the Sabres were VERY lucky to get out of the first tied.
 

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