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5 Observations: Coyotes take down Sabres 3-2

5 Observations: Coyotes take down Sabres 3-2
Posted at 12:03 AM, Feb 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-27 00:03:22-05

On Saturday the Buffalo Sabres allowed three first-period goals and got themselves into a hole they couldn't climb out of. On Sunday they did the exact opposite, taking a two-goal lead into the third period, only to squander it away to the Arizona Coyotes, falling 3-2 in the dying seconds of regulation.

Five observations from Sunday's loss:

Heartbreaking loss

Everything seemed like it was going according to plan and then the Sabres collapsed in the third period. Maybe they were sitting on the lead, maybe they weren't, but allowing three goals in 15 minutes to the second worst team in the league is unacceptable.

If Buffalo was able to get the win in overtime they would have been forgiven by most for their third-period struggles, but that didn't happen. If Buffalo has any shot at making the playoffs they'll have to make these last two losses up against teams well ahead of them in the standings. These were supposed to be 'easier' points, not two losses.

We haven't seen that before....

This season the Sabres haven't:
-Lost when Jack Eichel has at least two points
or
-Failed to get at least one point when taking a lead into the third period

Not an ideal time to see those two trends shatter.

"It's frustrating," Jack Eichel told WGR 550 after the game. "These are the ones we need to have, we are slowly pissing our chances away."

Defenseman Josh Gorges added, "we tried to protect a lead, every time you sit back you give a team life."

Deadline watch

If the Sabres won these last two games you could make an argument that they should try to improve their team before the trade deadline on March 1. Instead, they lost twice and their already slim playoff chances appear even bleaker. Don't be surprised if general manager Tim Murray has a busy few days sending assets elsewhere.

Nillson returns

When a goaltender allows three third period goals and takes the loss there's probably not much to like about their game. While that's fair, Nilsson made plenty of saves late to keep things interesting until the final seconds.

For a goalie who hasn't played in what seemed like forever [last start Feb. 7] Nilsson made some great stops. On two of the three Coyotes goals, Nilsson didn't get much help. Their first goal came after a brutal turnover. On the game winner, Nilsson was screened by at least three people and had no shot at getting a clean look at the shot from the point.

Eichel-Mania

It will be overshadowed by the loss, but once again Jack Eichel provided a much-needed spark for the Sabres offense. After seven games without a goal, Eichel found the back of the net for his 14th goal of the season.

In 41 games Eichel now has 36 points (14G, 22A). Extrapolated over an 82-game-season Eichel would be on pace for 72 points. Eichel's biggest criticism is that he's only scored in 10 games (multi-goal games), but that's still great production for a second-year player. 

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