BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It wasn't the kind of ending they wanted for 2019 as the Buffalo Sabres fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 6-4 defeat. The loss dropped the Sabres to 17-17-7 overall on the season as they finished the month of December with a 5-7-2 record. The Sabres are back on the ice Thursday when they host the Edmonton Oilers.
5 Observations from tonight's game
No lead is a safe lead
When the Sabres took a 4-1 lead midway through the second period, KeyBank Center was rocking and it looked like the team wasn't going to be denied at home in their last game of 2019. The the tide turned. The Lightning started to play more aggressive late in the 2nd period and it paid off, scoring twice to make it a one goal game. They followed that up with two more goals in the third to take their first lead of the night and capped it off with an empty-netter. We all know no lead is a safe lead, especially when you're playing the Lightning, but to give up five unanswered is unacceptable.
The Sabres kicked the month off with a 7-1 win over New Jersey back on December 2nd and went 4-1-1 through their first six games. How did they end things? Not the way they started them. They lost seven of their last eight games, and managed to score just 15 goals compared to their opponent's 32. Starting off a month hot is great but there's no point if you end things not so hot.
Jack is back
It's hard to believe but Sabres captain Jack Eichel was riding his longest goal-less streak of the season heading into tonight's game. After being scratched on December 19th, Eichel hadn't managed to score a goal in four straight games but finally got back on the stat sheet tonight in a big way. With the Sabres shorthanded, Eichel took control of a loose puck and made an ELITE move at the other end to score his 25th of the season and the first shorthanded goal of his career. You can watch his insane goal below.
EXCUSE US, @Jackeichel15!? pic.twitter.com/B3A3MDQy9f— NHL (@NHL) January 1, 2020
How many times have we mentioned the importance of secondary scoring? Well tonight, three different players finally got back on the stat sheet following their own lengthy goal-less droughts. Conor Sheary struck in the first period, scoring his first goal since December 2nd. That was followed up by Marcus Johansson's first goal since December 7th. Then it was Jimmy Vesey joining the party, notching his first since December 12th. Each player has had their fair share of opportunities over the last few games and it was good to see things finally go their way.
Turning a new page
The 2019 calendar year is over and the 2020 portion of their schedule has begun. With an 17-17-7 overall record, the Sabres are still in the mix of things but need to start and continue the new year with a bang. There's a lot going on with the team right now between forward Jeff Skinner out for another few weeks, head coach Ralph Krueger mixing up lines during practice, and reports surrounding another player wanting a trade. A new year brings a new slate and it all begins on Thursday.