Eichel’s hat trick not enough in Sabres 5-4 OT loss to Canes

Buffalo Sabres' Jack Eichel in action during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, in Philadelphia. The Flyers won 2-1. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Jack Eichel scored his first career hat trick but it wasn’t enough as the Sabres fell to Carolina 5-4 in overtime on Friday.  Jaccob Slavin netted the game-winner in overtime to drop the Sabres to 8-18-6 overall.

After falling behind 4-2 in the third the Sabres star centerman tallied back-to-back goals in 10 seconds to pull the Blue & Gold even at four to force overtime.  Jake McCabe tallied his second goal of the season in the third period as well and has the only goals by the blueliners this season.

Buffalo has now recorded a point in five of their last six games — but that’s no consolation prize.  The Sabres have just three wins in their last 18 games.

“It’s a bit frustrating,” Eichel said after the game.  “There’s some things we have to get better at in our D-zone. We did some good things and as a group we all want to get better. It’s not good enough to get a point. It’s a reoccurring theme.  We’ve had good efforts and in games with opportunities to get wins and coming out with overtime losses. We just have to move on from it.”

The Sabres return to action Tuesday when they host the Boston Bruins.


$80 million dollar man

Granted, his extension doesn’t kick in until next season, tonight’s performance is what makes Jack Eichel worth every penny.  After being basically invisible and not recording a shot on goal in Thursday’s loss to Philadelphia, this is what we’ve all been waiting to see from Eichel.


From start to finish — even on the back-to-back — Eichel was all over the ice creating chances and firing the puck on net like a man on a mission.


Final tally: a season high 11 shots on goal and his first career hat trick, including two goals in the span of 10 seconds in the third period.

“It stings for sure,” Eichel said of his performance.  “Get the building into it, the crowd is going — it would have topped off a good night.”

It’s the first home hat trick since April 5, 2011 when Thomas Vanek had three goals against Tampa Bay.


Seeing Red

That’s about the only thing Carolina saw in the faceoff circle — the dot.  Ryan O’Reilly dominated winning 20 of 28 faceoffs on Friday. The center had won 17 of 21 heading into the final period.

Mental Toughness

After giving up three goals in the span of four minutes and going from a 2-1 lead to trailing 4-2, the Sabres showed mental toughness and didn’t fold up shop like we’ve seen throughout the year.

Led by Eichel, they bounced back and charged forward.  During morning skate, Evander Kane made note of how important it was to not allow losses to snowball.  This was a heckuva effort by Buffalo to rally.

“We played a really really good game, it’s just those little details,” Head Coach Phil Housley said after the loss. “It’s just that urgency that something bad can happen, and it did. But the great thing is, we find a way to battle back which was awesome by our guys.  It’s just tough to lose in overtime.”

“I liked our game for the most part, but we just had too many mistakes that led to goals,” defense Jake McCabe said. “We showed good resiliency to come back, but we still didn’t’ get the two points and at the end of the day it’s not good enough.”

Missed Opportunities

First period…second period…third period…the Sabres had several Grade A Chances to bury the puck and Hurricanes and couldn’t finish.

Early in the third Evander Kane whiffed on a shot all by himself in the slot. A short time later, and trailing 3-2 Sam Reinhart took a feed from Benoit Pouliot and couldn’t beat Ward.


Even with a flailing Ward midway through the final period, Zemgus Girgensons (5 SOG), couldn’t get it past the 33-year old netminder.

The opportunities were there and there were plenty — including Kane all alone on Ward in OT — they just came up empty.

“This is a tough one to swallow because we had our chances, I had my chances,” Kane said after the loss. “It was a (expletive) attempt.  I should know better. The ice is notvery good in overtime — have to fire the puck and put it away.”

Power Play Struggles…against Carolina

We know the power play has been an issue all season for the Sabres.  They entered the night near the bottom of the rankings converting 13 percent of the time on the man-advantage.

Against Cam War and the Hurricanes, their struggles can be traced all the way to 2014.  Buffalo is now 0-for-25 (0-3 on Friday) over the past three-plus seasons.

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