Robin Lehner made his return to Ottawa, for the first time after being traded to the Buffalo Sabres, as a still-winless goaltender. But Lehner was so good, especially at the nail-biting finish, and he left Ottawa as the MVP of the Sabres thrilling 3-2 victory.
It must have been sweet for Robin Lehner to play such a strong game in his return to the team that traded him away. Lehner made 34 saves, stopping all 22 Ottawa shots in the third period, and even notched an assist on Eichel's first goal to put the cherry on top of his first victory as a Sabres goaltender. The MVP has a .938 save percentage since returning from injury, despite going 1-3 in that time.
The end of the game was so close, but Erik Karlsson opened the scoring early in the first, banging home a rebound in the crease for his eleventh goal of the year. The Sabres would answer later in the period, thanks to a botched puck play by Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson, which Evander Kane would bank off Anderson and in for his eleventh goal of the season.
When Bobby Ryan scored to put the Senators up 2-1 in the second, I'm sure I wasn't the only Sabres fan who felt a familiar "here we go again" twinge. But feelings of doubt are no match for Jack Eichel. The rookie phenom would score on his (becoming) patented wrap-around, and would score again in the third when he slammed home an ugly rebound in the crease to put the Sabres up 3-2, the goal that would become the game winner.
The last few minutes of the game were tense, as the Sabres evolved from Squirtle into Blastoise, going full turtle mode for the final five minutes. Lehenr stood strong throughout, making a number of great blocker saves, and even overcoming tonight's horrendous Mike Weber penalty with 20 seconds left - though we should point out that Weber played a fine game tonight on the top pairing with Ristolainen.
The Senators thought they had tie the game at the buzzer, but upon further review, it was determined that Ottawa had scored just a fraction of a second after the clock had struck 0.0, and with that, the Sabres cemented their 3-2 victory by the skin of their teeth.
With the victory, the Sabres snap their three game losing streak, and head into the All Star break on a high note. Buffalo's next game is on Feb. 3, at Montreal.
1. Can Girgensons and Eichel do that again?
One out of two ain't bad, right? Eichel scored twice in the win, but Zemgus was active all night making plays, and both players were very noticeable on the ice tonight. Zemgus and Jack forever.
2. Can the Sabres contain the Senators top players?
Considering that the Ottawa goals came from Erik Karlsson and Bobby Ryan, we're going to say no, especially considering the crazy pressure the Sens top six put on Buffalo in the final minutes. But they contained them enough.
3. How will we feel heading in to the All-Star Break?
An exciting win featuring some highlight reel Eichel goals and a stout performance from their hopeful franchise goaltender means that we can spend the All Star break dreaming of Eichel wraparounds instead of next year's draft.
Comment of the Game
Good job Robin