Eichel’s hat trick not enough to top Hurricanes


Games where the Buffalo Sabres managed to sneak out with a win, or even a point, because of a one-man effort have been common in recent years. But most times when it’s been the case, it was because of the man between the pipes for Buffalo.

Jack Eichel’s hattrick was a refreshing sight to see from a player in blue and gold after so many offense-starved years for the Sabres, even if was still only good enough to nab Buffalo a point against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.

“You’re never really going into a game thinking about a hat trick, I thought I was shooting the puck well tonight,” said Eichel following the contest. “There was a lot of good things but at the end of the day its only one point […] it stings a little.”

Offense from nowhere to be seen for the first half of the game–from either team. The scoring only commenced after more than ten minutes played into the second period, when Justin Williams put Carolina on the board with his seventh on the season. Buffalo answered back without delay, scoring exactly 30 seconds later on Jack Eichel’s ninth this year.

The two teams made up for the offensive dearth with an absolutely torrid third period, when they combined for six goals altogether.

After taking a 2-1 lead early in the final frame on goal from Jake McCabe (just the second this season from a Buffalo defenseman), the Sabres allowed Carolina to take over the contest. The Hurricanes scored the next three goals, coming off the sticks of Jordan Staal, Derek Ryan, and Elias Lindholm. All three of Carolina’s third period tallies came in a span of under four minutes where Buffalo’s defense and netminding collapsed.

9:24 was when Eichel decided to answer back, putting up his second of the night with a fluid wrister that snuck through traffic and beat Cam Ward.

He needed far less time than Carolina did to keep the offense rolling. His next goal came just ten seconds later, and had little but empty air to soar though. Shortly after the faceoff, Eichel glided past just about every Carolina defensemen, got Ward to commit early, and threw the puck into a yawning top portion of the net for his 11th this season and his first career hat trick. The trio of goals was the first hat trick by a Sabre at home since all the way back on April 5th, 2011, when Thomas Vanek netted three against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“There was definitely waves of momentum,” said McCabe. “We had too many mistakes that led to goals, we showed resilience coming back. Jack led the way.”

In Overtime, Evander Kane somehow secured a free pass into the Carolina zone all alone at one point, but couldn’t manage to get the puck past Ward. The failed breakaway proved backbreaking just moments later, when Jacob Slavin rocketed a shot past Chad Johnson to give Carolina the win and continue Buffalo’s woes beyond regulation. With the loss, the Sabres fell to a dismal 1-7 record in Overtime and Shootouts this season.

“When you look at the game, I thought we had real good control of it until 3rd period,” said Sabres head coach Phil Housley. “It’s recognition of possession and having to come back. This is our fifth game in eight nights. I hand it to the guys to comeback; it easily could’ve went in a different direction”

After the disappointing back-to-back nights against Philadelphia and Carolina, the Sabres will take a few days off. They’ll return to action on Tuesday the 19th when they welcome the Boston Bruins to the KeyBank Center.



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