Buffalo Sabres Top Hurricanes, 4-1: Three Stars


The Buffalo Sabres hosted the Carolina Hurricanes Friday night looking to snap a 6-game skid. There were ups and downs of the game, but timely goals from the Sabres led to a 4-1 finish. The ups and downs came from veteran players Matt Moulson and Brian Gionta who were struggling at times and looked as if they needed to be demoted a line or two.

Just as you want to say they aren’t making enough plays, Moulson feeds Gionta for the Sabres 3rd goal. It was really a slap in the face to the critics (myself being one) tonight and goes to show a player’s game can change in an instant.

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While Gionta and Moulson won’t be receiving any of my three stars tonight, they proved that they can still be somewhat effective even on their off days.

So, without further ado, here are tonight’s three stars of the game!

3rd Star: Jack Eichel

I’ve been critical of Eichel lately, especially last game. I know he scored against the Preds, but it was too little, too late in my opinion. At times, it looked like he wasn’t moving his feet as much as he should, he was turning the puck over a little more than I’d like to see and he was getting a little too cute with the puck. Tonight, he may not have had the best game, but he certainly made up for it with his absolute laser of a shot in the 2nd period. Even with his mistakes that are bound to happen, his explosive stride, strength, stick skills and shot are mesmerizing.

I laughed so hard when he scored because as he grabbed the puck, I said out loud, “Do something cool!” Two seconds later, Eichel rips a wrister home. His goal ended up being the game-winning goal and it was a great individual effort. I view his goal as the turning point in the game. The Sabres just had an extra jump after #15 produced an EichSnipe.

2nd Star: Marcus Foligno

From start to finish, I thought Foligno was the best player on the ice tonight. From what I saw, he was a hound on the puck, played solid defense, was physical and created chances. The star should really go to his entire line, but I really liked the way Foligno took it upon himself to create energy and provide a spark for the Sabres when they were on their heels.

1st Star: Chad Johnson

I have continued to reiterate that Chad Johnson looked as if he was a career backup and he shouldn’t be expected to carry the Sabres for a majority of the season (depending on when Lehner returns), but he keeps proving me wrong. He faced a barrage of shots in the first, many of them quality saves in close. Johnson looked steady, calm and kept the Sabres in the game when they needed it. He provided the Sabres the backstop they needed to propel them to work through their struggles against a nagging Hurricanes squad.

It looks like my analysis of Johnson’s game has been forced to be changed by #31. If Johnson can provide the Sabres will quality goaltending and the Sabres score timely goals, Buffalo could start creeping up the Eastern Conference standings.

Next: NHL Coach's Challenge: A Necessary Evil

The Sabres next home game is next Friday against the surprising Arizona Coyotes.