Score: Buffalo: 4, San Jose: 3
Shots: BUF-29 | SJ-28
Buffalo Goalscorers: Jack Eickel (2), Sam Reinhart, Jeff Skinner
San Jose Goalscorers: Dylan Gambrell, Marc-Eduoard Vlasic, Erik Karlsson
Minus-1: Losing the Drop
The Sabres returned home from a week-long road trip to improve their impressive record at KeyBank Center, but went down by two goals early before the first period ended. The team is 7-1-0 when scoring first, and it was disappointing to see them fail to score the first, and then also give up a second.
Coach Ralph Krueger expressed that Saturday’s matchup gave San Jose a good look at the team, and that the Sharks would be better prepared for Buffalo. While the first period certainly proved the new coach right, the adjustments that were made in the first intermission paid off. The Sabres took advantage of a power play opportunity and with just over 30 seconds left in the period, netted the equalizer.
Plus-1: Jack Eichel
Another multi-point night for the Sabres’ captain - AND he got booed. No one was booing when he scored the game winner. As young as he is, he still has a lot to learn, and maybe he’s not completely comfortable with himself yet, but when he gets on a roll, there is little question who is dictating the game. There are few players in the league who can take over the way Eichel does so completely.
Minus-2: Poor Third Period
After such a dominant second period, the Sabres came out hot in the third to take the lead. Including the goal, Buffalo managed only four shots in the final 20 minutes of regulation. San Jose finished with 13. Even when San Jose drew even, Buffalo couldn’t pull out of the downward spiral. Thankfully, Hutton is having a career season, and kept the team in it to get to overtime.
Even: They Don’t Ask How
With tonight’s win, Buffalo takes sole possession of first place in the league - with Edmonton playing in Minnesota, the Oilers can match the Sabres point total, but at this writing, they are the tops. It hasn’t all been pretty. It hasn’t all been great. But in the end, Buffalo pulls out the win and it’s difficult to criticize positive results.
Except that we’ve seen this before. Carter Hutton’s league-leading goaltending, several wins in overtime...everything. We’re less than a year removed from “The Streak”, and still stinging from the crash. These ugly wins are wins for sure, but...there is cause for concern.
At 8-1-1, Buffalo has its hottest start in years. Goals are coming at even strength and on the power play. The penalty kill is effective. The goaltending is solid. This was an overtime win that maybe shouldn’t have been, but Buffalo prevailed in the end, so roll the highlight film, clear your throat, make some noise. Now do you believe?