Successive second overall picks Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel put on a show on Saturday night in Bridgestone Arena in Tennessee. Facing a powerhouse team that has to be considered a Stanley Cup favorite at this point, the pair of second overalls tore the house down and combined for eight (not a typo), eight points against Roman Josi and Western Conference leading Nashville. Earlier this season I stated that Buffalo should have thrown Reinhart away. After tonight I can say with a straight face that that was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever said.
Reinhart scored his second career hatrick and Jack Eichel tallied five assists in a 7-4 Sabres victory over the Predators, who were up 3-1 at one point. It was the kind of game that should give even the most cynical of Sabres fans hope that the future still may be bright after all. Reinhart, Jason Pominville, Ryan O’Reilly, Rasmus Ristolainen and Kyle Okposo all scored for Buffalo, who put up one of its best showings of the season and chased Nashville G Pekka Rinne after the second period. The rally sent Head Coach Phil Housley home happy in his return to Nashville for the first time since he parted ways with the Predators to take the reigns in Buffalo. Such a win has got to feel good for Housely and the team, especially since Rinne and the Preds shut Buffalo out 4-0 in their last meeting.
The game was not without a scary moment. Predators LW Scott Hartnell was issued a major penalty and a game misconduct for boarding Buffalo D Victor Antipin at 14:09 of the second period. The Russian was stretchered off the ice and the Sabres have not released an update on Antipin’s condition yet at this point in time.
Knight in shining armor Casey Mittelstadt scored his second assist in as many games to begin his NHL career. It is still unsure whether or not 2017’s eighth overall pick will be full time with the Sabres next year, but the 19 year old is sending a virtual slap in the face to anyone who ridiculed Jason Botterill for drafting him a year ago. This kid has more than proven that he has what it takes, and I’m glad Buffalo had the wherewithal to give him an introduction this season to prevent it from being a 100% waste.
It’s been an absolute train wreck of a season for the Sabres and Botterill has quite the task on his hands this summer to rid the team of its deadweight, very few players will be safe. But, tonight did prove that there is hope for the future in Buffalo, even if fan’s don’t want to accept it.