The first period in today's game was everything you ever wanted in this season's Buffalo Sabres team. Jack Eichel scored a beautiful coast-to-coast goal, Evander Kane knocked home a lucky shot, Sam Reinhart had a goal and an assist, Ryan O'Reilly ended up with two assists, and Robin Lehner was stout in net.
This was the plan coming in to the season, and today it all came together as the Sabres won 4-1 over the Colorado Avalanche.
It wasn't a perfect first period for the Sabres, but it went about as well as anyone could expect. While the Avs outshot Buffalo, the Sabres got all the bounces to go their way - especially on Kane's weak goal that chased Semyon Varlamov to the bench - and after finishing the first up 3-0 it was only a matter of holding on for the win.
Eichel and Reinhart's goals were things of beauty, and they both now sit at 17 goals on the season. Kane's lucky goal was his 16th of the year, and Marcus Foligno would add an empty netter for his fourth point in the last two games to secure the 4-1 win.
The goaltending was one of the biggest stories of the game, with Varlamov finishing with a save percentage of .000 on two shots, while Robin Lehner stopped 34 of 35 shots in a return to the fantastic form he showed coming off of injury.
1. How will Girgensons look in his first game back?
Zemgus was eased back into things on the third line, but looked good despite taking a double minor penalty in the third period. His lack of playing time at center this season did hurt him in the faceoff circle, where he went just 12%.
2. Will Robin Lehner regain his form today?
Yes he did - Lehner earned first star honors and deservedly so. He made a number of excellent saves and while the pucks weren't exactly sticking to him, his directing of rebounds was on point and he only let in one goal thanks to some terrible backchecking by Zach Bogosian and Matt Moulson.
3. Will the defense be shuffled again or stay the same?
Mark Pysyk came in for Carlo Colaiacovo but played on the third line with Cody Franson. Jake McCabe was promoted to the second pairing and earned an assist for his trouble.
Comment of the Game
Best Valentine's Day present