Eichel Scores First NHL Goal, Lehner Injured, Turris Records 2 Goals
Buffalo- The Jack Eichel era in Buffalo officially began Thursday night when the Sabres hosted the Ottawa Senators. The No 2 overall selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft made his debut kicking off one of the most anticipated seasons of Sabres hockey in more than 10 years.
Robin Lehner started in goal for Buffalo. He was acquired in a June trade with the Sens. Craig Anderson started for Ottawa. Sabres Captain Brian Gionta was kept out of the opener with a lower-body injury but could be back Saturday. Sam Reinhart took his place in the lineup and started the game with Eichel and Evander Kane.
The game started off quickly, for Ottawa. Kyle Turris scored just 30 seconds into the opening period giving the Sens an early 1-0 lead. Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone picked up the assists. The teams combined for just 13 shots on goal and zero penalty minutes in the first period. The Senators came out flying again in the 2nd, they put 11 SOG during the middle frame. Buffalo finished with 7. Ottawa won 30 face-off’s in the first two periods.
Lehner left the game in the 2nd after suffering an apparent lower body injury. Chad Johnson replaced him and saw his first action in Buffalo. Johnson was acquired at the trade deadline but didn’t appear in a single game due to injury. He saved the first two shots he faced but Turris would score his 2nd of the night when his wrist shot found the back of the net. Hoffman and Stone collected the helpers once again.
Buffalo’s Eichel had a nice opportunity in the closing minutes of the 2nd period during a flurry in front of Anderson. Eichel’s first shot attempt didn’t get far but it came back to him and he attempted a back hand. Anderson was there to stop the shot that never left the ice surface.
Bylsma continued to shuffle his lines in the 3rd. Eichel and Kane were joined by Zemgus Girgensons at the start. That didn’t exactly spark the offense for Buffalo early in the period.
The Senators continued to frustrate the Sabres forwards, turning them away at center ice time for much of the game. The Sens had great puck possession throughout. To their credit, the Sabres remained disciplined and were not called for any penalties. In fact they would capitalize with the man advantage.
Buffalo caught a break midway through the final period while on the power play. Eichel recorded his first NHL goal at 9:11 when he buried a shot into the top left corner. Kane and Marcus Foligno set Eichel up igniting the sold-out crowd.
Soon after Kane scored on a wrap-around, this time from the right side of the net, assists by Girgensons and Mark Pysyk.
However the goal would be reviewed as Ottawa took advantage of the NHL’s new rule that allows coaches to challenge goals scored. The play was ruled off-sides and the goal disallowed. Much to the dismay of the crowd. Buffalo continued to apply offensive pressure but Anderson was solid down the stretch. Ristolainen ripped a shot from the blue line that hit the post, first thought to have gone in but play continued.
Bylsma shortened the bench in the 3rd, Reinhart saw just three shifts. Eichel was front and center, proving his worth till the final buzzer. He finished with 21:58 TOI sharing the lead for all Sabres forwards with Kane. Eichel had three shots on goal and went 6-6 on face-off’s including winning all 5 that he took in the offensive zone.
The Sabres would give up an empty net with 1:04 left to play, Curtis Lazar scored the Sens 3rd goal of the game. Ottawa won 3-1 and now head to Toronto to play the Maple Leafs Saturday night. The Sabres will practice Friday morning at the arena and host the defending Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning in a Saturday matinee.
Anderson finished with 26 saves, Lehner made 12 and Johnson had 8.
Post Game Quotes
“I felt good, as a team we got better as the game went on but we need better starts”
“We didn’t bring what I thought we could the first 3 periods”On the Replay negating Kane’s game tying goal “its a good call, I didn’t know you could challenge that”
On Lehner “there will be further observation but it does not appear to be short term”
On Turris 2nd goal “rebound goes from our deflection to a wide open guy, he (Johnson) had no chance on that, he made three in particular real good saves, kept us in it”
On Reviewing Disallowed goal “surprised I took that long”
On Reporters Sneeze “Bless You”
Final Game Stats
Eichel was named 2nd Star.