Final Score: Maple Leafs 4 | Sabres 6
Shots: Maple Leafs 29 | Sabres 34
Buffalo Goalscorers: Jeff Skinner (10), Jack Eichel (15, 16), Casey Mittelstadt (4), Victor Olofsson (10), Jimmy Vesey (3)
Toronto Goalscorers: John Tavares (8, 9), Dmytro Timashov (2), Kasperi Kapanen (8)
Finally. A flood of goals from the Buffalo Sabres to try to wash away the dry and dusty previous few weeks. Some of the goals even came from a player that isn’t named Jack Eichel. Victor Olofsson gets another 5-on-5 tally, Mittelstadt does...something, and...
Three games, three goals for Jimmy Vesey. It took 24 games for the former-and-current Buffalo Sabre to get on the board, but since that time, he’s been nearly unstoppable. Hyperbole? Maybe. But it sure is fun to watch Vesey be effective after watching him stumble through the first quarter of the season like a newborn baby colt. Quiet confidence has made a difference for the young forward, and hopefully he can continue to roll.
It is great to get a win, for sure. It is nice to hang six goals on a team you should beat. The players are hyped, the crowd loves it, Ralph Krueger is...excited...probably? There should be a celebration for the squad; the win gives them a tie in the standings with these very Leafs, with the chance to overtake them tomorrow night. BUT...letting the Leafs put four behind your goaltender is less than ideal. Buffalo’s goaltenders have really kept the Sabres relevant, and while the team gave Linus Ullmark scoring support, it would also be nice to bail the goalies out defensively.
Plus-1: Jack Eichel
The Sabres’ captain has 14 goals on the season - sixth in the league. There is little question that he is the catalyst for the Sabres, and has been by far the key to any success the team has had this season. He finished the game tonight leading all skaters with eight shots and had two goals to show for it. He is the embodiment of Buffalo’s hopes and dreams, and is doing everything he can to drag a seemingly reluctant team to victory, night in and night out.
In the immortal words of Lou Brown, “We won a game yesterday, if we win one today that’s two in a row. If we win one tomorrow that’s called a winning streak.” Buffalo has three out of their last four possible points - five out of their last eight. As the season progresses, that points percentage is going to need to stay at this pace if the team has any hope of playing games after April 4.
Beating a bitter rival on Black Friday has the makings of the feelgood story of the season so far - a high-scoring affair with everything you’d expect from a team that’s in the midst of its own identity crisis. Still, the game was closer than it should have been and the thing about results - even positive results - is that they are only significant when they are repeatable. Once a result like this becomes the rule rather than the exception, the Sabres will finally be in a good place.