Eichel scores 2 in Sabres' 4-2 win over Golden Knights
By JONAH BRONSTEIN, Associated Press
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Jack Eichel helped the Buffalo Sabres end a long drought without a winning record.
Eichel, the Sabres’ 21-year-old captain, scored two goals in a 4-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday.
With its second straight victory, Buffalo (2-1-0) has more wins than losses for the first time since the third game of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
“I think we are coming together as a group,” said Eichel, who also had a goal and an assist in Buffalo’s 3-1 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday.
“We are not a finished product by any means, but I think you can see the desperation in which we play with and the togetherness that we play with in the last few games.”
Marco Scandella and Jason Pominville had the other goals and Carter Hutton made 35 saves for the Sabres. Hutton was coming off a 43-save performance against the Rangers.
“It’s nice to get off to a good start,” said Pominville, who was part of the 2013 Sabres before being traded to the Minnesota Wild late in the season, and returned to Buffalo in a trade prior to last season. “It’s a different vibe, different atmosphere.”
Erik Haula and Jonathan Marchessault scored for the Golden Knights (1-2-0), playing the second of a five-game road trip. Haula had the winning shootout goal in Vegas’ victory at Minnesota on Saturday. Marc-Andre Fleury made 13 saves.
“We weren’t mentally sharp,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “There were mental lapses in the D-zone and a guy left wide open. You couldn’t blame Fleury on any of the goals.”
The Golden Knights put more shots on goal than the Sabres in all three periods, though Gallant said they did not generate many good scoring chances.
The Sabres were also outshot in each period of their win over the Rangers.
“When you are winning games and not playing your best, it’s a really good sign,” Eichel said.
Buffalo had only five shots on goal in the second period, but was able to score three times in about five minutes.
“We limited them to a low number of shots, however, the shots they did get were Grade-A opportunities,” Vegas forward Max Pacioretty said. “We can’t hang our goaltender out to dry like that.”
Eichel tucked a backhand around Fleury’s poke-check for his third of the season to give the Sabres a 2-0 lead five minutes into the period. Sam Reinhart slipped a pass between the skates of Vegas defenseman Deryk Engelland to set up Eichel in front of the net.
The Golden Knights got on the board less than three minutes later when Haula sent a wrist shot from outside the right circle past Hutton.
The Sabres responded with two goals in a 1:28 span. Scandella floated a long shot from the blue line over Fleury’s glove just 27 seconds after Vegas scored. Evan Rodrigues fed Pominville for a one-timer to make it 4-1 midway through the second.
Buffalo never relinquished the lead after Rasmus Ristolainen slid the puck to Eichel for a one-timer from the left circle on a power play with 5:29 left in the first period.
Marchessault scored his second of the season for Vegas on an unassisted wrist shot from the high slot with 9:13 left in the third period.
NOTES: The Golden Knights are 0 for 8 on the power play through the first three games. … Vegas didn’t have its second loss until the 10th game of last season. … The Golden Knights beat the Sabres in both meetings last season, winning in overtime at home and in a shootout in Buffalo. … Sabres C Johan Larsson practiced Sunday for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury on Sept. 26 and is nearing a return.
Vegas: Continues East Coast trip at Washington on Wednesday in a rematch of the Stanley Cup Final.
Buffalo: Wraps up four-game homestand Thursday against Colorado.
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