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5 Observations: Penguins top Sabres 5-4 in OT

5 Observations: Penguins top Sabres 5-4 in OT
Posted at 10:04 PM, Nov 14, 2017

For the third straight game the Buffalo Sabres were tied in the third period and for the third straight time they lost. On Tuesday it was to the Pittsburgh Penguins, falling in overtime 5-4. Evander Kane, Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Benoit Pouliot scored for the Sabres, who now fall to 5-9-4. 

An all too familiar ending 

Less than a minute into overtime Sidney Crosby slid a perfect pass to Conor Sheary, who slammed home an easy goal to give the Penguins the win. Eichel and Nathan Beaulieu failed to pick up Sheary, who was basically uncovered. 

If Buffalo has any chance of climbing out of the massive hole they've dug 18 games into the season they need to start winning these close games. In their last three games they have scored first and in every game they have lost. These are precious points slipping away, especially for a team that has little room for error.

*glass shatters* BAH GAWD THAT'S JACK EICHEL MUSIC 

In the first-period Penguins' defenseman Ian Cole hammered Reinhart with a huge [and clean] open ice hit.  Seconds later Reinhart's line mate and best friend forever was there to answer the call, dropping the gloves and taking a swing at Cole. 

Instantly Sabres fans began to gush on social media, proclaiming their admiration for the Sabres assistant captain. Many even suggested the letter on Eichel's sweater [subtle rhyme] switch from 'A' to 'C'. While I'm not going to get that carried away, sticking up for his teammate like he did is exactly what you want to see out of the face of the franchise.  Dropping the mitts in this situation will win over fans, coaches and most importantly, his teammates. 

His best game 

Tuesday was Sam Reinhart's best game of the season. Shift after shift Reinhart was doing what he does best -- making plays. 

Reinhart's impressive evening started in the first period when he forced a Penguins turnover, leading to a Sabres two-on-one. Eichel slid a perfect pass to Kane a few seconds later and the Sabres took a 1-0 lead. Minutes later Reinhart found Eichel with a gorgeous pass but Eichel failed to convert. Reinhart was rewarded for his strong start just a few shifts later with his third goal of the season, putting home a juicy rebound in front of the net to give the Sabres a 2-1 lead. 

After an incredibly back and forth second period, Reinhart picked up his third point of the night in the dying seconds, winning another battle along the boards. This time he found Pouliot in front of the net,  who converted on the golden chance. For the first time in a long time,  Reinhart looked like the player Sabres fans have longed for. 

Don't break them up

If you read the last two observations this statement won't come as a surprise: Keep the Kane-Eichel-Reinhart line together. All night the trio was generating offense, building off a strong outing in Montreal on Saturday. Against the Canadiens, the combination failed to find the back of the net but on Tuesday all three scored. 

Trying Reinhart at center made sense but it's hard to argue that he's not more valuable when lined up next to Kane and Eichel. Over the last few years the trio has been the Sabres most dangerous line and despite little time together this year the chemistry still seems to be there. 

The offensive zone penalties just need to stop 

In a matter of two minutes during the second period, the Sabres took two dumb penalties in the offensive zone. The first was called on Matt Moulson, who went to the box for slashing two-time world champion Phil Kessel. This penalty basically happened because Moulson couldn't keep up with a streaking Kessel. 

Apparently, the Sabres didn't learn their lesson. While killing the Moulson penalty Pouliot dragged down Penguins forward Bryan Rust in the Sabres zone, giving the Penguins a 51-second 5-on-3 man advantage. Luckily for Moulson and Pouliot, the Sabres penalty kill stepped up the task and killed off the penalty.