BUFFALO, N.Y. — Jack Eichel scored the go-ahead goal on an end-to-end rush 7:57 into the third period in the Buffalo Sabres’ 4-2 win over the slumping Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night.
The goal was Eichel’s career-high-matching 28th of the season and came in a game in which he added an assist to become Buffalo’s first player in 27 years to reach the 60-point mark in 46 or fewer games. Sam Reinhart had a goal and two assists, and Kyle Okposo and Curtis Lazar, with an empty-netter, also scored.
Linus Ullmark stopped 23 shots, and the Sabres improved to 4-2 in their past six.
Reilly Smith and Tomas Nosek scored for the Golden Knights, who have lost four straight to match their longest streak without a point in their three-year franchise history. Vegas lost four in a row during an 0-4-1 skid from Nov. 7-16.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 22 shots, while missing a chance to earn his 458th career win and move into a tie for fifth on the NHL list with New York Rangers Henrik Lundqvist.
Eichel scored after both teams traded one-goal leads in the second period.
With Vegas caught in the Buffalo end, Eichel built up a full head of steam driving up the middle through the neutral zone to create a two-on-one break. Cutting to the left wing, Eichel burst past defenceman Shea Theodore, cut to the net and shifted from his backhand to forehand to flip the puck over Fleury’s glove.
It was Eichel’s sixth game-winning goal of the season. Only six players began the day with six or more, including St. Louis’ David Perron with a league-leading eight.
Eichel upped his season total to 28 goals and 33 assists in 46 games. The last Buffalo players to reach the 60-point mark in fewer games were Alex Mogilny, who did it in 33 games in 1992-93, and Pat LaFontaine, in 34 the same season.
Eichel’s goal regained Buffalo’s momentum after Smith tied the game at 2 with a power-play goal 1:43 into the third period.
Smith snapped a shot in from the right circle to beat Ullmark seven seconds after Buffalo defenceman Colin Miller was issued a double-minor for tripping and unsportsmanlike conduct. Miller, facing his former team for the first time since being traded to Buffalo in July, first tripped up Nosek, then shoved him to the ice before shoving Nicolas Hague.
The Golden Knights opened the scoring 1:55 into the second period when Chandler Stephenson broke up the right wing and had his centring pass deflect first off Sabres defenceman Brandon Montour and then go off the skate of Nosek before dribbling in.
Buffalo responded with two power-play goals.
Okposo tied it at 6:32 when he was set up in the left circle by Reinhart. Conor Sheary started the play by stripping the puck from William Karlsson, who was attempting to skate out of the zone.
Reinhart then converted a tic-tac-toe passing play by scoring the go-ahead goal with 19 seconds left in the period, and 26 seconds after the Golden Knights were penalized for too many men.
The Sabres converted their first two power-play opportunities and improved to converting 6 of 13 over their past five games. That’s a significant turnaround after going 2 of 29 in their previous 12.
C Jonathan Marchessault, one of four Golden Knights with 15 or more goals, returned after missing five games with a lower-body injury. … Sabres C Tage Thompson will miss the remainder of the season after having surgery Tuesday to repair a right shoulder he injured in November. … Vegas opened a stretch of playing eight straight on the road, spanning the NHL All-Star break, and won’t be back home until Feb. 8, against Carolina. … The Sabres close this week with two road games before entering their bye week off and the All-Star break. Their next game at Buffalo isn’t until Jan. 28, against Ottawa.
Golden Knights: At Ottawa Senators on Thursday.
Sabres: At Dallas Stars on Thursday.
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John Wawrow, The Associated Press