The Sabres get two wins without Eichel

Buffalo got points from 14 different players in the second period against the Devils

Paul Hamilton
January 09, 2019 - 12:20 am

Photo: Kevin Hoffman - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - There’s a very good chance the Sabres will have Jack Eichel back on Friday when they travel to Carolina. Buffalo went 2-1-0 without Eichel, beating Florida 4-3, losing in Boston 2-1 and racing past New Jersey 5-1.

Taking a look at the standings, the Sabres kept pace with Boston, Montreal, Washington and Pittsburgh, while they gained ground on Toronto, Columbus and the Islanders.

Buffalo is four back of the Leafs and two behind the Bruins. They’re one ahead of the Canadiens and Blue Jackets, and are two in front of the Islanders.

The game against the Devils was an interesting one. Buffalo played well in the first period, but went to the locker-room down 1-0.

In the second period, things only took 1:39 to change. Buffalo scored five goals in a period at home for the first time since 2009, and for only the third time in team history had 14 players get points in one period. The only four that didn’t were Sam Reinhart, Jason Pominville, Marco Scandella and Zemgus Girgensons.

The line of Johan Larsson with C.J. Smith and Kyle Okposo was fantastic right from the start. The three of them got in quickly on the forecheck and produced some early scoring opportunities.

Smith scored his first career NHL goal and quite fittingly, his two linemates got assists.

Lawrence Pilut wouldn’t be outdone by his Rochester roommate as he too scored his first NHL goal on a play where Reinhart totally screen Keith Kinkaid.

I loved the play Jake McCabe made on his shorthanded goal. First, he blocked a shot and was heading for the bench. When he looked up he realized he was part of a 2-on-1 and joined Evan Rodrigues. The center gave McCabe a perfect pass at just the right time so he could put the puck into the empty net.

Let’s not leave Carter Hutton out of this either. For starters, he got five goals of support. That’s only the third time all season he’s gotten five goals to work with. Hutton also made two huge saves on Damon Severson in front while the score was still 3-1. The Devils were pressing and had they scored there, who knows how the game would’ve gone.

I think it’s important that the Sabres know that they can win and score goals when Eichel isn’t in the lineup. Injuries happen, and when you’re in a playoff race, you still have to find ways to get points.

Smith and Pilut played very well on Tuesday and if Eichel is ready on Friday, Jason Botterill must find a roster spot. He could send Smith, Pilut, Casey Mittelstadt or Tage Thompson to Rochester or he’ll have to waive somebody. My wild guess is Smith will go down, but you never know.

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