Sabres stay winless in 3-2 loss to Sharks

Buffalo Sabres' Jason Pominville (29) celebrates with Jack Eichel (15) after scoring a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

BUFFALO, N.Y (WIVB) – Jason Pominville scored twice, but it wasn’t enough in a 3-2 loss to the Sharks Thursday.

Buffalo remains winless on the year and is now 31st in the league standings.  San Jose picks up its first two points of the season, improving to 1-2 overall.

The Sharks struck early, taking advantage of a Sabres penalty and opened a 1-0 lead 2:15 into the game on Tomas Hurtl’s first goal of the season.

Buffalo battled back as Jack Eichel connected with Jason Pominville for his 3rd goal of the year. However, that tie was short lived as the Sharks took the lead three minutes later as Chris Tierney netted his first of the season.

Pominville once again tied the game in the second but Timo Meier added the third and finally tally of the night later in the period.

NOTES:

We have to narrow our focus just winning the first period.  It’s good that guys can get on the road and bond, but we have to start winning here.” – Phil Housley

Head Coach Phil Housley was onto something when he said those words following the team’s morning skate on Wednesday.

If there’s one thing you don’t want to do against a struggling team, it’s give them an opportunity to capitalize on early momentum.

The Sabres allowed the Sharks to do just that Thursday night as Marco Scandella was whistled for a slashing penalty 36 seconds into the game.

San Jose made good on their chance, scoring the first power play goal against the Sabres’ PK unit to jump out front 1-0.

Granted the Sabres battled back to tie the game twice (at 1-1 and again at 2-2), but they are now 0-3 when trailing after the first period.

They were tied 1-1 with Montreal in the opener and went onto lose in a shootout.

Buffalo hasn’t led in a game since the opener against Montreal.

*****

Jack Eichel and Jason Pominville are a lethal combination and they recaptured their opening night magic connecting on not one, but two goals in the loss to San Jose.

Eichel’s backhanded, drop pass to a trailing Pominville was a thing of beauty, as was his pass through two Shark defenders to Pommer for their second tally of the game.

The past few years, there wasn’t anybody who had the touch or skill to really finish the prime chances Eichel was sending across.

*****

Zemgus Girgensons was placed on the wing to Eichel, while Evander Kane was bumped to Ryan O’Reilly’s wing.

Girgensons was all over the ice, and made plays for the Blue and Gold.  His backhand pass to Eichel – which he sent through a defenders leg was nice – only adding the awe of the Sabres’ first goal.

In the second period, as he was falling on his backside, he dished the puck up to Eichel on a 2-on-1 rush, which ultimately set up Pommer for his fourth goal of the season.

What it boils down to is this: The more Eichel has the puck on his stick the better – whether that’s shooting or passing.  He can make things happen.

There’s one puck and it’s easy to understand the argument for breaking up Kane and Eichel.  However, the Kane-Eichel-Reinhart line was pretty lethal last season.

Skating alongside Ryan O’Reilly – Evander Kane had one shot on goal.  He had 26 through the first three games (8.6 per game).

*****

Maybe it’s the new faceoff rules and a continue crackdown by officials, but Eichel has struggled in the dot early in the season and it continued in awful fashion on Thursday.

After the first period, Eichel had lost all eight of his faceoffs and finished the night winning just four of his 17 draws.

The centerman went 4-for-12 in the opener, 3-for-10 against New York and 8-for-13 against the Devils.

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