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5 Observations: Sabres top Blackhawks 5-3

Posted: 4:21 PM, Mar 17, 2018
Updated: 2018-03-17 16:21:52-04

Where were you in December of 2009? Believe it or not, Saturday was the Buffalo Sabres first win against the Chicago Blackhawks since 2009. Buffalo pulled away in the final minutes with Nick Baptiste's second goal of the night to make it a 4-3 game. Sam Reinhart scored again moments later [empty net] to give the Sabres a 5-3 win.

Five observations from Saturday's win:

Jack's Back

It was unclear whether or not we would see Jack Eichel back in the lineup again this season after he suffered a serious ankle injury in early February. After days of hints and practices, Eichel returned to the lineup on Saturday afternoon, answering those questions from last month.

With 11 games left in the season, Eichel will have a great chance at surpassing his career-best 57-point mark, set last season. Despite missing 15 games, Eichel leads the Sabres with 54 points, thanks to an assist in his first game back.

So how'd he look?

As you would probably expect, Eichel made some plays on Saturday that no one else on the Sabres can make. At one point he cycled the puck around the offensive zone all by himself, juking around anybody that was going to get in his way. He then slid the puck between his own legs, firing a backhander just over the net. If the shot would've gone in, it would've been one of the prettiest goals scored by a Sabres player this season.

But with the good came the not so good. Eichel at times didn't look as quick as we've come to expect and made a few careless plays in the defensive zone. That said, the good outweighed the bad and it certainly looks like Eichel is at least close to 100-percent. He admitted he felt a bit rust but overall thought he played well. 

Big game Baptiste

It would be safe to say that Saturday was one of the best games Nick Baptiste has played in the NHL. Baptiste scored the game tying goal in the third period and the game-winner with less than two minutes to play, helping the Sabres get a much needed win. After the game, Baptiste told reporters that his parents were in the stands and they've never seen him score a goal in the NHL until Saturday afternoon. Sabres head coach Phil Housley was equally impressed and said Baptiste had a great game. 

Homecoming

Every time Patrick Kane has played in Buffalo he picks up at least one point. On Saturday his first assist came in the second period as Kane sent an absolutely perfect pass to Jordan Oesterle to tie things at one. Kane added another tally just 20 seconds into the third period, picking up assist number 44 (!) on the year.

Reinhart stays hot

With a goal and two assists, Sam Reinhart now has 29 points in the Sabres last 27 games. For those keeping track at home, Reinhart now has 42 points this season, just five behind his career best mark [47] set last season. When you consider his terrible start to the season, Reinhart is proving to be one of the few bright spots of the season.

 

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