The Sabres’ best offensive performance in nearly a decade was more than enough to propel them past the Ottawa Senators 9-2 on Saturday afternoon at KeyBank Center. Jason Pominville, Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner each put up three points as Buffalo snapped a three game skid and avenged its loss to Ottawa on Thursday night.
Pominville and Skinner scored twice while Kyle Okposo, Zemgus Girgensons, Conor Sheary, Patrick Berglund and Casey Mittelstadt all lit the lamp as well. Ottawa starter Craig Anderson was chased following the third goal, it was just the tenth shot he faced. Backup Mike McKenna didn’t fare any better and was torched for the last six.
The nine goals put up by the Sabres were the most they had tallied in a game since January 27, 2009 when the team routed Edmonton 10-2 at Rexall Place. It was the most the team had scored at home in even longer, since a 10-1 smoking of the Atlanta Thrashers on January 18, 2008 that ended a 10-game losing streak. Linus Ullmark was strong once again in net, stopping 27 of the 29 shots he faced to remain unbeaten on the season.
The line of Eichel, Pominville and Skinner has been excellent since Phil Housley threw them together. Eichel has been handling the passing and Skinner and Pominville have been in the right spot more often than not. The line has been the top source of offense for the team over the past few games, but it’s also very encouraging to see lower line guys get on the score sheet. The fourth line of Girgensons, Berglund and Johan Larsson combined for five points. No team will ever turn down supplementary offense, and the Sabres got it today.
Pominville’s twin tallies made the game extra special, since it was all about him to start. Before the game Buffalo honored him for his 1000th career game on Thursday as the Pegulas presented him and his family with a silver sabre, after which team captains Eichel, Okposo and Bogosian embraced him and stood for photos.
However, the highlight of it (in my opinion, at least) was a touching tribute video the team assembled in which multiple former Sabres, both retired and active, congratulated their ex-teammate. A range of ex-teammates from Ryan Miller to Nathan Paetsch appeared. It was a nice bit of continuity and really put it in perspective how long Pominville have served the organization. An adopted Buffalonian for the better part of the last 20 years, the 35-year-old is certainly one of the better players in team history (as his two separate runs as captain may suggest). Though probably not a hall-of-famer, Pominville has carved a lasting legacy for himself. Be sure to watch the video, it will give you all the feels (really).