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5 Observations: Eichel, Sabres top Penguins 4-3 in OT

Posted at 10:20 PM, Sep 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-19 22:56:23-04

It's only the preseason, but for Jack Eichel, the 2017-2018 season is off to a roaring start. In his first game of the preseason and the Sabres' second, Eichel tallied two assists and scored the overtime winner, giving Buffalo a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at Pegula Ice Arena. 

 
Five observations from the win:

Buckle up

If he stays healthy, Jack Eichel is going to have himself quite the year. It didn't take long for Eichel to make a statement, sliding a perfect pass to new (kind of) Sabre Jason Pominville, who buried a wrist shot top-shelf. In the second period, Eichel slid another dime to Evander Kane, who fired a shot from the slot. Penguins goalie Antti Niemi made the save, but Pominville was there to tap home the rebound with the assists going to Eichel and Kane.

Eichel's biggest mistake of the evening came on Pittsburgh's first goal, where he failed to tie up a streaking forward, who eventually chipped one past Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson. Aside from that, Eichel was one of the Sabres best players all game and made pretty play after pretty play, of course concluding with an end-to-end rush in overtime where Eichel beat Pittsburgh goaltender Casey Desmith with a wrist shot low-blocker.

Eichel had himself a hell of a game.   

Three's company

Take everything during the preseason and training camp with a grain of salt. This will be said a lot during the next few weeks, I apologize in advance.

However, the Eichel, Pominville and Kane line was buzzing all evening & makes me wonder if it's a trio that could stick into the regular season. In their first game together the three seemed to compliment each other well, generating solid pressure in the offensive zone. 

A lot of what happens depends on Sam Reinhart, and if he makes the permanent move to center. If Reinhart sticks down the middle, you might need to get used to the aforementioned line. That's not a bad thing.

Beaulieu and Bogosian impress

I loved how both Nathan Beaulieu and Zach Bogosian played against the Penguins on Tuesday night. Both players logged big minutes, appearing on the penalty-kill and power play. Speaking of penalties, the Sabres took nine (!). If it wasn't for Beaulieu and Bogosian the Penguins may have converted on more than two of their attempts. 

Antipin struggles out the gate

It shouldn't be a surprise that Victor Antipin was a little rusty in his first NHL, game. Antipin took two penalties and got caught flat-footed a few too many times, spoiling his debut. The 24-year-old rookie got better as the night carried on, so not all is lost. Getting fully adjusted will take some time. 

Chad Johnson has strong evening 

Like Pominville, Johnson is once again wearing a Sabres sweater and had a solid evening donning the blue and gold. Johnson was brought in to be a solid backup, capable of playing his fair share of games in the event of a Lehner injury or slump. On Tuesday he showed what Sabres fans saw in 2015-2016, swallowing up pucks and staying composed as things got hectic around the blue paint. 

Johnson was replaced by Adam Wilcox in the third period, finishing the evening with 23 saves on 24 shots.