For the second straight night, the Buffalo Sabres fought back from a deficit to took a win from a team that was considered the favorite, only tonight it was more impressive. Visiting the Minnesota Wild at St. Paul’s Xcel Engery Center, Buffalo found itself down by two in first period on goals from Zach Parise and Matt Dumba. Buffalo kept the resolve, however, and stormed back with three unanswered tallies and won its fifth straight game thanks to a late goal by a familiar face to State of Hockey fans.
The Sabres got on the board when Ramus Dahlin gave a beautiful pass to Jake McCabe (a defensive defenseman), who jumped up in the rush and cashed it past the blocker of former All-Star Devan Dubnyk. Neither team scored in the second period despite multiple chances, including a Jason Zucker breakaway that Linus Ullmark snared with his glove. To the third it went with a score of 2-1.
Phil Housley reunited the Killer Js to begin the third, and it paid immediate dividends as the trio wasted no time working its traditional magic. With the the Kardiac Kids (another gem from Dan Dunleavy) on the ice, Dahlin got himself into the act once again and put his second career goal through a skirmish in front of Dubnyk to tie the game after a strong passing play. With the momentum now on their side, the Sabres capped off the comeback with less than two minutes remaining. Eichel corralled a McCabe shoot in and found Pominville in front. Though not in the best position, the former Wild shoveled a backhander that caught Dubnyk off guard and gave Buffalo its first lead with 1:30 left on the clock. The Sabres held on to win and earned their first five game winning streak in six years (March 2012).
The star of the night for the Sabres was unquestionably Dahlin, whose goal and assist helped spark the rally. Both goaltenders were very sharp. It can be argued that both goals Ullmark allowed in the first were softies, but he held strong other than that and held Buffalo in the game despite another lopsided shot total (39-29 Minnesota). Dubnyk, on the other hand, was tough as ever and showed why he is considered one of the game’s best. Minnesota can’t blame him for the loss.
Eichel has been garnering heat in the media for his lack of goal output, he has only four on the season. And while it is true that more scoring from him would be ideal, I don’t really understand why everyone is getting up in arms. He has 18 assists on the season, currently fifth in the NHL, and has been a large reason behind the torrid goal output that Jeff Skinner is currently on. We’d all love to see him score more goals, but as long as the Sabres are scoring and he’s getting on the sheet, does it really matter?
Through 20 games, Buffalo currently sits at sixth in the NHL with 26 points. It is the team’s best start to a season since their 2009-10 Northeast Division championship season. It’s still fairly early in the year and quite a bit could change, but this is starting to look like a special team. I think so at least, do you?