The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Arizona Coyotes 6-3 Thursday evening, atoning for the abysmal performance they put on last week against this very same Arizona squad. Jack Eichel extended his point streak to eight games, registering a goal and two assists on the night. Eichel has two goals and nine assists during that span. Despite another shaky performance by Robin Lehner, the Sabres prevailed with a decisive offensive onslaught in the third period.
The Coyotes opened the scoring at 7:54 in the first period when Teemu Pulkkinen scored his second of the season, tapping in a give-and-go feed with Lehner horribly out of position. The goal was Pulkkinen’s first as a Coyote since being traded to Arizona from Minnesota at the trade deadline.
Exactly four minutes later, Marcus Foligno potted the Sabres’ second short-handed goal of the season, burying a shot top shelf. Ryan O’Reilly found Foligno wide open in front of the Coyotes’ net for the game tying goal.
Less than a minute into the second period, O’Reilly scored a goal of his own, this time on the power-play to give the Sabres a 2-1 advantage. The goal was O’Reilly’s 14th of the season. Jack Eichel and Kyle Okposo were credited with the assists on the play.
Arizona wasted little time however, When Tobias Rieder notched his 14th of the year as well, just over a minute later, tying the contest at two. Rieder scored short-handed, which marks the first time this season that the Sabres have been on both the giving and receiving end of a short-handed goal in the same game. At 11:08, Jack Eichel took advantage of his team’s third power-play opportunity of the period when he nabbed his 15th of the season, burying a feed from Sam Reinhart.
The back-and-forth affair continued well into the final frame when Alex Goligoski scored at 8:20 to tie the game at three a side. The last five minutes of the game was all Buffalo, however as the blue and gold took a 4-3 lead at 14:24 when the increasingly clutch Evander Kane tallied his 23rd of the season. At 18:17, Marcus Foligno would register his second goal of the game to give the Sabres a 5-3 lead with just under two minutes remaining. In the waning seconds of the contest, Sam Reinhart potted an empty net goal to secure the 6-3 victory. The goal was Reinhart’s 15th of the year, giving him 40 points on the season.
While the box score would indicate a close affair through the first 55 minutes, the Sabres handily out-shot their opponent 31-10 through the first two periods. After consecutive suspect performances from Robin Lehner, the Sabres may look to give Anders Nilsson more time in net as the season comes to a close. The Sabres had yet to out-shoot an opponent so convincingly all year, and if not for late game heroics from Kane and Foligno, bad goaltending could have cost them a game that they simply dominated.
The Sabres take on Tampa Bay this Saturday at KeyBank Center. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.