Sabres' Eichel takes over the game in a win over San Jose

Jack Eichel had four points, including the overtime winner

Paul Hamilton
October 22, 2019 - 11:10 pm

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Jack Eichel said he thought he could’ve played better out west. He said that he’s much better when he’s moving his feet, and was he ever on Tuesday.

Eichel had two goals and two assists to get the Sabres past San Jose, 4-3 in overtime. On the overtime goal, it came about because on the only rush the Sharks had in overtime, Casey Mittelstadt hustled back to break up a play that could’ve been a tap in.

Buffalo had the puck for pretty much the entire overtime before Eichel finally ended it.

Eichel started this game fast, but in the beginning, he just didn’t want to shoot. Buffalo was forcing the play fast and causing multiple turnovers. Eichel had three glorious chances and passed all three of them up. The fans let Eichel know they wanted him to shoot, and he said later that he heard.

Along the way, Martin Jones got hot, stopping Jeff Skinner twice in front right off the hop. A couple of defensive mistakes got the Sabres into a 2-0 hole, but they had so many chances to score, it wasn’t time to panic.

Mittelstadt and his linemates, Jimmy Vesey and Conor Sheary, were giving the Sharks fits, but they couldn’t solve Jones.

In the second period on the power play, Eichel decided to shoot from the left circle on the power play and put it through Jones. You could see the relief on his face when the puck finally went in.

On Sam Reinhart’s goal, it was Eichel who was up high on the blue line and with very little room, feathered a pass right across the line to Ristolainen, whose shot was deflected in by No. 23.

Very early in the third, Victor Olofsson left the ice for a change and Jeff Skinner sprinted on. Eichel saw him coming from the bench and set him up in front for his sixth goal of the season.

By the time the captain was done, he had four points, giving him 14 points in 10 games this season. As of Tuesday night, that ranked Eichel fifth in the NHL.

We found out in California that the Sabres can win when Eichel isn’t at his best. That’s a big change from the past four years, because they would rarely win if Eichel wasn’t a factor. We found out Tuesday that Eichel really likes playing in Buffalo as 13 of his 14 points have come in this building. Eichel said in the post-game that he loves playing in front of these fans. He’s comfortable and they’ve helped this team start 5-0-0 at home for the first time since 1984.

We learned last year no lead is safe, but this season could be different. With 17 points, Buffalo has a three-point lead over Boston, a five-point lead over Toronto and an eight-point lead over Tampa Bay.

Only one game at home, and now the Sabres are back on the road for two. Thursday they’re at Madison Square Garden to play the Rangers, and Friday it’s a game in Detroit.

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