All eyes were on Jack Eichel tonight and he certainly did not disappoint.
The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, 2-0, in the Kraft Hockeyville game held at Lakeview Arena in Marquette, Michigan. Eichel, playing on a line with Sam Reinhart and Alex Nylander for most of the game, contributed an assist on Reinhart’s second period goal, while generating a number of other excellent chances.
Supported by another strong game from Robin Lehner in net, the Sabres shook off the ugly loss last week to the Toronto Maple Leafs to control play for much of the contest, especially during the two-goal second period.
In the second, the scoring was opened by Nic Deslauriers who put home his second attempt off a nice corner-to-slot pass from Hudson Fasching who continued his strong preseason. Reinhart followed that with a tip off a Casey Nelson point shot, which also saw Eichel notching a secondary assist.
Lehner picked up his first shutout of the preseason and was steady all game. There were no particularly impressive saves required from the Sabres starting netminder, but he certainly stepped up when called upon. This was an excellent follow up to his 37-save performance against Ottawa last week.
The game was not without its negatives for the Sabres however.
The biggest issue was the anemic power play which continued its preseason snide. The Sabres were 0-4 with the man advantage tonight to push their drought to 0-25 and looked lost at times with the man advantage. This will likely be one of the biggest areas of focus in the days before the season begins.
But, for the most part, the Sabres played a sound three periods with flashes of brilliance from Eichel and Reinhart especially. Other performances of note included Brendan Guhle, who is certainly making the decision to send him to junior hard to make for a second straight year, Fasching and Derek Grant, who also continued their impressive run in the preseason.
Keeping up with those who did not play tonight, coach Dan Byslma has said that while they did not make the trip, defensemen Dmitry Kulikov and Zach Bogosian, as well as forward Kyle Okposo have relatively minor injuries and should be back in the lineup by the start of the season. Ryan O’Reilly met up with the team in Marquette and may play tomorrow night.
The Sabres will stay in the vicinity of Michigan’s upper peninsula tomorrow night as well, traveling just across the US-Canada border to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario for another contest with the Carolina Hurricanes. Puck drop is at 7 p.m..