The kids are alright.
20 year-old newcomer Hudson Fasching was the oldest Sabre to score and Buffalo managed to overcome Chad Johnson’s early lapses to win back to back games for the first time since Valentine’s Day.
The University of Minnesota product had an excellent first day on the job topped off by adding the first tally of his career. The 6’3”, 215 pounder used his big frame and solid stick work to move the Jets defenseman off the puck coming down left week. He looped under and back towards the middle of the ice and Fasching had no problem lighting the lamp for the first time in his career, beating Jets ‘tender Michael Hutchinson.
Fasching logged just over 12 minutes of ice time in his debut and played with a slew of guys in the bottom 6 forwards. He looked comfortable with Marcus Foligno and Johan Larsson, and I think that could become a really good line with some more gelling. All bigger, tougher guys that can certainly help in the goal department. It will be interesting to see where Dan Bylsma plays Fasching in his nine game trial run.
Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart were the other goal scorers for Buffalo, two names that are much more familiar to see in the goal column. Reinhart continues his gritty play near the cage, cleaning up the trash in front of the net. After the original shot bounced off the post, Reinhart found it on his stick and lofted it past Hutchinson to tie the game early in the 3rd.
Shortly after, Reinhart made a nice defensive play causing a turnover near mid ice. He made a ridiculous no look pass to a streaking Eichel who put his deft wrister by the Jets goalie to give Buffalo a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. It was Eichel’s 23rd of the year and he’s got seven more games to add to the season total.
Chad Johnson looked shaky early as he gave up two goals less than a minute apart in the first 5:09 of the opening period. He rebounded and didn’t let another in, though the pressure wasn’t very daunting. He finished the afternoon with a mere 17 saves.
Both goals were pretty soft but the Buffalo defensemen didn’t help him out much. Jake McCabe got caught out of position on the first goal which led to Nikolaj Ehlers coming down the wing alone, who got his forehand shot by Johnson. It was Mark Pysyk who couldn’t body up Andrew Copp on the second score and Winnipeg got a cheap one that dribbled by Johnson.
The Sabres were the aggressor all day, outshooting the Jets in every period and finishing the game with a 29-19 advantage. A few minute segment during the middle of the 2nd period saw Buffalo have a ton of chances that they couldn’t capitalize on. The opportunities were numerous and of good quality. Foligno, Reinhart and Pysyk all had great chances in about a 30 second span.
Near the end of the game, Foligno had a great opportunity to put it away but rang one of the post after some fancy puck work near the net. Johan Larsson followed that with a ringer off the cage as well.
In limited time, Buffalo’s special teams were quite good. On their lone penalty kill, the trio of Josh Gorges, Rasmus Ristolainen and David Legwand came up big on numerous occasions winning battles to the puck and clearing down the ice. On the power play, the Sabs finished 0-2 but got a memorable chance on a Ristolainen slap-pass that went off the skate of Zemgus Girgensons. They had some trouble maintaining possession on the man advantage, but when they did they were getting good looks.
Buffalo gets tomorrow off and travels to Detroit to take on the Red Wings Monday night. They go in winners of four of their last six games and look to notch their second three-game winning streak of the year, the first one coming in early November.