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Sabres fall behind early in loss to Maple Leafs

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Buffalo played a soft game and struggled to score early on

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Toronto Maple Leafs Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Final Score: Maple Leafs 5 | Sabres 3

Shots on Goal: Maple Leafs 32 | Sabres 30

Sabres Goal Scorers: Rasmus Dahlin (2), Jack Eichel (24), Kyle Okposo (4)

Leafs Goal Scorers: Frederik Gauthier (4), Auston Matthews (20, 21), Dmytro Timashov (3), Ilya Mikheyev (6)

Plus 1: Eichel Continues to Shine

Jack Eichel’s point streak is now at 17 consecutive games as he maintains his impressive run - the longest in the NHL this season. The 23-year-old captain practiced patience with an assist to Rasmus Dahlin’s slap shot from the blue line. The power play goal finally put the Sabres on the scoreboard early in the third period to make it 3-1. He then went on to score a top shelf goal just a few minutes later following Timashov’s goal. Eichel has tallied two points in five of his last six games.

If he reaches 18 games, Eichel will tie Gilbert Perreault for the longest point streak in Sabres history.

Plus 2: Lookin’ Good, Linus

Starting goaltender Linus Ullmark stood on his head tonight, especially during some tough scoring chances by the Leafs in the first period. Without him, the Sabres could have easily lost 8-3. Yes, a loss is a loss, but he has been solid and fun to watch between the pipes this season.

Additionally, head coach Ralph Krueger’s decision to pull Ullmark during the third period power play turned out to be the wrong one. With the man advantage, it was the perfect opportunity for the Sabres to make a comeback, but instead a turnover from Marcus Johansson led the Leafs to their final goal.

Minus 1: Toronto Dominates When First to Score

This season, the Maple Leafs are a solid 9-3-1 when getting on the scoreboard first. The home team was dominant in the first period, forcing the Sabres to play more defensively and, during a stretch of time, the puck barely made it to the Leafs’ zone. The Sabres had a total of only four shots in the opening period and have struggled to play full 60 minute games this season (and perhaps the last decade, arguably). Krueger and his team really need to focus on improving this as we round out 2019 and make our way into the second half of the season.

Minus 2: Too Little Too Late

Historically, the Sabres have been a soft team and this season has been no different. Even though the visiting team had more total hits in this game, Buffalo still lacks the grit and physicality to tire out their opponent. Where were they in the first two periods? Aside from getting their offense back on track, the Sabres need to be a team that stops getting walked all over if they plan on being competitive and making the playoffs this year.

The Sabres will look to bounce back from tonight’s loss in their next game, which is Thursday at 7:00 PM against the Flyers in Philadelphia.