At last, the Buffalo Sabres seven-game losing streak is over, snapping the skid with a 3-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers. Jacob Josefson, Jack Eichel and Kyle Okposo scored for the Sabres, who improve to 6-13-4 with the win.
Five observations from Friday's win:
Well, that didn't take long. In his first game since early November, Ristolainen was all over the place and led all Sabres defensemen in ice time, finishing the night with 27:32. He even added an assist on Okposo's empty-net goal as the cherry-on-top.
It wasn't a great start to the season for Ristolainen but Friday was an important reminder of just how important he is to the Sabres. No, I don't think he's a bonafide number one NHL defenseman but he's the best blue-liner the Sabres have and that was evident against the Oilers.
Lights Out Lehner
Sometimes the hardest games for a goaltender are the ones when you're not tested very often. That was the case for Lehner on Friday, who faced only shots 15 shots in the first two periods. The third and final period was the busiest of the night for Lehner, who saw his shutout slip away in the dying seconds. Overall, it was a very solid performance for Lehner.
If at first, you don't succeed, try again
*Jack Eichel misses high and wide*
If I had a dollar for every time I saw that tweet in the first 40 minutes of Friday's game I could buy a Winter Classic jersey. It wasn't a great start for Eichel but less than a minute into the third period Eichel scored his seventh goal of the season, firing a wrist-shot past Oilers goaltender Laurent Brossoit. With the goal, a lucky fan won $5,000 and KeyBank Center collectively erupted.
JACK EICHEL WINS THE FAN $5K
The fan is now collectively losing his mind
We are blessed #Sabres
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) November 25, 2017
Eichel has and always will be evaluated under a microscope, especially after signing his big deal the day before the season. Yes, he can and should be better (19 points in 23 games) but more often than not he's the Sabres most dynamic player.
From Russia with love
That observation title won't get old. At times Victor Antipin makes careless mistakes and reminds us that he's a rookie but in his 17th NHL game against the Oilers I thought he looked calm, cool and collected. Playing alongside Jake McCabe gives Antipin a little more leeway to be creative and jump into the rush, something he hasn't been able to do all season.
His game is by no means perfect but as this young season carries on I think he keeps looking better and better -- which is relative on this roster. When Bogosian returns I'd like to see Antipin stay in the lineup with Falk (or Gorges) bumped into the seventh spot.
Pitiful Power Play
The Sabres have now gone five straight games without scoring a power play goal. For a team that has such a difficult time scoring even-strength goals, this needs to change. Ristolainen returning should give the unit a spark but they need to capitalize on their chances far more than they have this season.