Jack Eichel’s winner makes it three overtime wins in a row for the Buffalo Sabres, and takes them to within four points of a playoff place.
A couple of days ago, we asked if Robin Lehner‘s save of the year candidate against the Montreal Canadiens, could be the moment that galvanized the Buffalo Sabres, and turned their season around? Well, if Wednesday night is any indication, the answer has to be “Yes”.
Down 4-2, with six minutes remaining in the third period, the Sabres appeared certain to lose the momentum gained from their previous two games. However, Dan Bylsma‘s team suddenly turned it on, and displayed the mental fortitude which has been on display of late.
Thanks to Brian Gionta and Kyle Okposo, the Sabres were able to come back and force the extra period. Then, their young superstar Jack Eichel took over,and clinched the third consecutive overtime win, with his second goal of the evening:
With the 5-4 victory over the Nashville Predators, the Sabres improved to 20-18-9 on the season. More importantly, they moved to within four points of a playoff spot, with 35 games still remaining.
For Eichel, who recently reached boiling point with how badly things were going, it was satisfying to see the turnaround continue. Speaking to John Vogl of The Buffalo News, he said: “We got down two goals on the road against a really good hockey team, and we were able to find a way to get it to overtime and win it.
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“It says a lot about the resiliency of this team. It’s nice to be part of games like that.”
Showing he hasn’t lost his sense of humor through the tough times, the 2015 second overall draft pick added with a smile: “I think we need to start winning some in regulation, though, to make it a little bit easier on ourselves.”
Three nights after making his sensational save, Lehner will be the first to admit he didn’t play as well against the Predators. However, such is the renewed belief of this team, he never lost faith.
Also speaking to Vogl, the Sabres’ goaltender said: “We kept playing, and we believed it was going to happen. When we scored, 4-3, I had a great feeling in my body.”
You could argue the odds are still against the Sabres qualifying for the playoffs. However, with all adversity they’ve suffered this season, just to be in with a chance at this stage counts for something.
As Eichel said: “We stuck with it for 60, and that’s kind of been the motto for this team. You can see it in the last few that we’ve played.
“We’ve battled back and been able to squeeze out two points. At the end of the day, that’s what matters.”
How has Tuesday night’s overtime win impacted your perspective on the Sabres’ chances of making the playoffs? Has it persuaded you they can now qualify, or are you still not convinced it will happen? Share your thoughts in the comments section.