Game Recap: Round 2 Goes to Jack
Eichel’s explosive 3rd powers Vegas past Buffalo
Score: Sabres 4 | Golden Knights 7
Shots: BUF 35 | VGK 36
Buffalo Sabres Goals:
1) Thompson (Okposo, Dahlin)
2) Mittelstadt (Cozens, Peterka)
3) Thompson (Skinner, Hinostroza)
4) Asplund (Cozens, Bryson)
Vegas Golden Knights Goals:
1) Stephenson (Marchessault, Pietrangelo)
2) Kessel (Roy, Cotter)
3) Cotter (Roy, Theodore)
4) Pietrangelo (Eichel, Stephenson)
5) Eichel (Pietrangelo, Stephenson)
6) Eichel (Stephenson, Stone)
7) Eichel (Martinez)
Minus 1: Captain Jack’s Revenge
The moment had finally arrived. A healthy Jack Eichel, looking like the dynamic forward we cheered on for six seasons, dominated his former team in front of his former fans. Eichel was a force all night but was kept at bay until breaking the seal in the 3rd period. After a routine pass to the point turned into his first point against Buffalo, Eichel smelled blood and ended the night with three goals. Each one provided Jack a chance to gloat in front of fans that booed him hard last year. Particularly, his second goal fired him up with good reason. He generated tremendous speed through the neutral zone, used his body to create some room for himself, and utilized his quick, lethal shot to blow it past Comrie. It was a tally created almost entirely by Eichel’s speed and skill. The Sabres may have won round 1 last year, but Eichel came back swinging in round 2.
Plus 1: Thompson Torments Defenders
Tage Thompson is a unicorn. Players with his size, speed, and skill do not come into the NHL often, and many times when they do, they aren’t able to put all the pieces together. Not only has Thompson put the pieces together, but his complete package is also vastly superior to the sum of the parts. Tonight, he showcased how far his hockey sense has come. In the past, Thompson was quick on the trigger to utilize his excellent shot. However, he has gained the awareness and patience to utilize his shot more effectively. Both of his goals were an exercise of waiting until the most opportune moment to strike. Logan Thompson didn’t stand a chance on either tally. National broadcasts are starting to take notice. First, it was TNT that highlighted his play against the Penguins, and tonight the ESPN announces called him an all-star. In a stretch of games that have not gone well, Thompson has continued to elevate his game. He is on track to be one of the most underpaid centers in the league when his next contract kicks in.
Minus 2: Leaky Between the Pipes
An encouraging start to the season in goal has given way to some underwhelming performances. Comrie has never shouldered this level of workload as an NHL goaltender, and the inexperience is showing. He now sits with just 4 wins in 10 starts. He also has a dismal 3.62 GAA and .885 save percentage. Even with half the Sabres starting defensemen injured, these are brutal numbers for a guy Buffalo has ridden like a starter. In particular, the Sabres skaters need to find a way to limit odd man rushes as Comrie can get caught with a weak post to post push when the pass comes across on a 2 on 1. The Kessel goal was a perfect example. Roy got the pass across at the top of the circles and Comrie was not able to get across in time to get a piece of Ironman Phil’s one-timer. While it would be wrong to hang the recent losses solely on goaltending, this recent stretch has exposed how important the position is to the success of this young team.
Not going to lie, this could have gone better. Last year’s win might have been a cathartic moment for the Sabres organization and fans, but this was Eichel’s night. After getting a full offseason to fully recover from the disc replacement surgery, Jack has been on a tear to start this year. This game felt similar to his dominant performances against the Leafs that Sabres fans had thoroughly enjoyed over the years. This one was vastly less satisfying. Even though Eichel got the last laugh this night, there are some positives to take away. Buffalo has a budding star at forward in Tage Thompson to go with their star defenseman in Dahlin. Owen Power continues to improve with each game, and the powerplay is slowly starting to resemble an effective five-man unit. This team continues to compete hard against the best teams in the league. They fell short this night while playing the top team in the league but have a chance to break the losing streak against the second-best team in the league on Saturday against the Bruins.