The goal of the day came in Nashville. Oh. There were other candidates that made the highlight reel. But nobody topped Buffalo center Jack Eichel. The electrifying second-year player from Massachusetts scored the overtime winner in epic fashion. He already got one earlier on a power play.
What made the latest Sabres’ victory great was how they came back to beat the Predators 5-4- winning a third consecutive game in overtime. With under 10 minutes left in the third period, they trailed Nashville 4-2. But they never gave up. Brian Gionta scored his 11th with 5:50 remaining. With Robin Lehner off for an extra skater, Kyle Okposo tied it with 1:05 left.
That set the stage for Eichel during the always entertaining 3-on-3. He didn’t disappoint. Taking a pass from Taylor Fedun in his zone, Eichel flew up ice and found enough room to skate into traffic and blow one past Nashville rookie Juuse Saros for the stunning OT winner at 2:35. Here’s how it looked:
My favorite part is how Eichel didn’t hesitate to attack the Nashville defense by skating inside and making a great move before sniping. That’s star talent. His two goals give him 12 along with nine helpers for 21 points in 26 games.
It was also the Sabres’ third consecutive come from behind win when trailing in the third. They are suddenly up to 49 points. The crazy aspect is they’re tied with five other teams in points. That includes the resurgent Islanders, who won again defeating Columbus 4-2 in Brooklyn. They’re up to 3-0-1 under interim coach Doug Weight. Nikolay Kulemin and Jason Chimera scored big goals as the Isles suddenly are right back in it along with everyone else.
With Boston finally winning, they’re up to 54 points and third in the Atlantic Division. The Maple Leafs are fourth with 53 which puts them in the second wildcard a point up on the Flyers, who visit MSG tonight. Florida follows with 50 and then it gets crowded with the Islanders, Sabres, Hurricanes, Red Wings, Devils and Lightning all tied with 49. The difference is regulation/overtime wins (ROW) and games played.
It’s anyone’s guess what will happen. With no one out of it, the trade deadline on Feb. 28 is gonna be very interesting. Just how many teams will sell. We’re still over a month away. By them, maybe the playoff picture will become clearer.
It is very exciting to follow. But more so to see Brian’s team moving up the standings and making it interesting. Along with Toronto, those two rebuilding teams are worth keeping a close eye on.