BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Buffalo Sabres are back from the NHL All-Star break and kicked things off with a loss, falling to the Ottawa Senators 5-2 Tuesday night. Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel both scored while Linus Ullmark stopped 30 of 33 shots before leaving the ice with an injury (more on that in our 3rd observation). The Sabres will be back at home on Thursday when they host Montreal.
4 Observations from tonight's game
Shooters gotta shoot
If you watched tonight's game, then you watched a Sabres team coming off a two week hiatus. The team skated sluggish and it seemed to take nearly all game to wake up. They didn't record a single shot until their first power play opportunity of the night nearly nine minutes into the first period. They started the second period off just as slow and at the end of 40 minutes, had just 15 shots compared to Ottawa's 30. The only way you're gonna score is by taking shots and when going up against a team that entered tonight with just five wins on the road, shots need and should come more often.
We all know Jack Eichel is having a heck of a season and tonight, he set a new career high. Midway through the second period, Eichel took advantage of a scuffle in front of Ottawa's net to tie the game and notch his 29th goal of the season, besting his previous career high of 28 which he set last season. With 32 games left to play, Eichel will more than likely surpass the 30-goal mark by a handful and continues to make his case for the Hart Memorial Trophy.
Eyes on Ullmark
If trailing late in the game wasn't bad enough, the Sabres then had to watch starting goaltender Linus Ullmark go down with what looks to be a leg injury. Ullmark remained down on the ice before being helped off by two teammates, not putting any weight on that right leg as he then limped to the locker room. Losing Ullmark, for any period of time, is less than ideal for a team that's really trying to put themselves in a postseason spot. We should know more about Ullmark's status when the team hits the ice for practice Wednesday afternoon.
Following the All-Star break the Sabres open things up by playing nine of ten games at home, including tonight's. That bodes well for a team who has done fairly well at home, recording a *14-6-3* record at KeyBank Center so far. This is a huge opportunity for a team that's trying to move up the standings and make a playoff push during this final stretch of the season. With the minimal amount of travel they have to worry about over these next three weeks (with just one road game in NYC), grabbing at least seven wins is necessary.