Sabres center Jack Eichel, who, if Connor McDavid didn’t exist, would be getting more hype and pressure than any rookie since Sidney Crosby, scored his first of many NHL goals at 9:11 of the third period of Buffalo’s 3-1 loss to Ottawa. On the power play, Eichel floated around from behind the net, took a cross-ice pass from Marcus Foligno, waited half a beat, and put the puck over Craig Anderson’s right shoulder.
It was a good goal, and if there’s anything to take away from the smallest of sample sizes, it’s Eichel’s patience. Whatever nerves he had (and Eichel said they disappeared as the game went along), he didn’t panic and slap at the puck the moment he got it. Even with Anderson getting over, Eichel took the time he needed to make sure he lifted the puck and put it precisely where it couldn’t have been stopped.
“I saw [Foligno] pass it across. There was nobody out front, so I assumed [Eichel] was coming from behind the net. I got over there and thought I was pretty square, I was probably still not 100 percent square to him, and he made a great shot just underneath the bar.
“[Sens backup goalie Matt O’Connor, who was Eichel’s college teammate] said he’s really good at that. Tip your hat to the guy and congrats for his first goal.”
Eichel scores and Buffalo loses. You’re going to see a lot of that, at least this year—but the Sabres are trending upward, even if nothing changes besides their new franchise center.