BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Overcoming adversity seems to be an early season theme for the the Sabres.
After struggling in the first period and ultimately blowing a two-goal lead in the third, the Blue & Gold found a way to secure two points with a game-wining goal from Marcus Johansson in overtime.
Here are four observations following the game.
Ready or Not
On the heels of their first loss of the season to Columbus on Monday, the Canadiens pushed the pace early on in the first period and had the Sabres on their heels through the first four minutes of play.
The Blue & Gold pushed right back over the next 10 minutes — only to see their effort fall short in the final six minutes of the opening period.
Montreal took advantage of two brutal turnovers from Rasmus Dahlin, who we’ll have more on later, and Rasmus Ristolainen and took a 2-1 lead into intermission.
The Sabres continued to push the pace in the second and deep into the third — until they saw their two-goal lead disappear.
Blowing a lead and getting a point would be a disappointment.
Blowing a lead and finding a way to win it and secure two points on home ice is progress for a team that, a year ago, would have settled for the former.
Let’s not kid ourselves — Eichel’s power play rip in the second period was from an impossible angle.
How he found the space to sneak a shot around a defender, tuck the puck inside the far post and past the glove of Keith Kinkaid defies logic.
The captain would once again get Blue & Gold faithful on their feet later in the period.
As the “Let’s go Buffalo” chants started to rain down from the 300 level, Eichel corralled the puck in his own end, skated around Tomas Tatar, through the neutral zone and let one fly as he zipped through three Montreal players for his second goal of the night.
It’s a big year Eichel — and he’s delivering early on in the season. With his two goals and two assists Wednesday night Eichel now has seven points (3G, 4A).
The Sabres power play has been electric since the puck dropped on the season, and the power surge continued Wednesday night against the Canadiens.
Through four games, Buffalo has seven goals of the man-advantage, which includes the tallies from Eichel and Victor Oloffson, who tied an NHL record in the game.
The power play is also operating at an astonishing 57% (8-for-15)
For those curious, the record for power play-percentage in a season is 31.9% which was set by Montreal during the 1977-1978 campaign.
And, according to the NHL record books, the last team to have a power play-percentage above 30 was the 1978-1979 New York Islanders (31.1%).
Rasmus Dahlin might have played one of the worst games in his young career Wednesday night.
A turnover from the blueliner led to Montreal’s first goal of the game and an interference penalty led the Habs second tally.
On the power play in the final seconds of the third period, Dahlin couldn’t settle the puck at the blue line — and time ultimately ran off in regulation.
Consider this a blip in the defeseman’s young career.