It sounds like a broken record, but once again Jack Eichel was the star of this game. The rookie forward played an excellent two way game and grabbed two points for the Sabres tonight. Eichel scored the opening goal on the power play early in the 1st then fed Cody Franson in the 2nd period for his helper.
It was another complete game for the Sabres, who are starting to show what they can do when they play with some consistency. And this is still without Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian and Robin Lehner. We can only hope that Buffalo continues to get better when these guys eventually return from injury.
Chad Johnson made 30 saves, playing one of his better games of the year. Aside from one Lightning power play where they fired shots on net at will, Johnson didn’t have to make any extreme saves. That didn’t stop him from doing so as his save on Nikita Kucherov in the 2nd will go down as one of the best saves of the year. Johnson miraculously got a glove on a shot that had Kucherov in front of the net with nothing in front of him.
The only goal he gave up was a power play snipe from Steven Stamkos that he had no chance on. Tampa shouldn’t have had the opportunity right then either. Josh Gorges’ clearing attempt on the penalty kill hit David Legwand in the back and the Sabres couldn’t clear. Kucherov ended up with the puck after the jumble and fed Stamkos on a shot he will not ever miss.
The Sabres had another poor clearing attempt in the 3rd when it caused Brian Gionta to take a penalty. Thankfully it did not cost Buffalo on the scoreboard.
Gionta drew a penalty of his before that, as he had a breakaway on Andrei Vasilevskiy. He got slashed by Steven Stamkos from behind on what could have been called a penalty shot. Instead, the Sabres power play couldn’t convert on the man up.
Zemgus Girgensons made his presence felt throughout the night. None more so than midway through the first, he toe dragged passed a Lightning defender and fired a pass that was just too quick for Sam Reinhart to get a stick on. It was easily one of the nicest plays of the night.
But this night belonged to Jack Eichel. On multiple occasions he went coast to coast with the puck and kept defenders off balance. He drew penalties, continued his deft stick work, and took great shots throughout the game. He continues to get better and better each game.
Marcus Foligno and Rasmus Ristolainen added goals in the 3rd period for Buffalo.