The Buffalo Sabres have an 8-8-1 record including a record of 6-3-0 in their last 10 games. Through Monday night, the Sabres are just two points behind the Detroit Red Wings who hold third place in the Atlantic Division.
The Sabres are a much improved team from just a season ago. According to NHL.com, Buffalo is averaging 2.29 goals per game through 17 games played. By comparison, the 2014-2015 Sabres scored just 1.87 goals per game. Buffalo’s 2013-2014 squad did slightly worse with an average of 1.83 goals per game.
Buffalo’s improvement in goal scoring has been driven in part by the club’s success on the power play. The Sabres’ have converted on 23.6 percent of their chances with the man advantage which is the fourth best power play in the NHL. In addition, Buffalo has scored 13 of their 39 goals with the man advantage. Here is a look at the Sabres’ top five power play goals so far this season.
5. November 12, 2015 – Sam Reinhart
Sam Reinhart’s power play goal against the Florida Panthers turned out to be the game winner. Ryan O’Reilly moved the puck to Rasmus Ristolainen who then dished the puck to Tyler Ennis. Ennis took his time with the puck which allowed Moulson, O’Reilly and Reinhart to create traffic in front of Panthers’ goaltender Roberto Luongo. Ennis ripped a slap shot and Reinhart timed a perfect deflection to notch Buffalo’s third goal of the game.
4. October 8, 2015 – Jack Eichel
It didn’t take very long for Jack Eichel to score his first career NHL goal as a member of the Sabres. Evander Kane won the battle for the puck in the corner and fed it to Marcus Foligno. Foligno then passed the puck to a wide open Eichel. A quick flick of the wrist is all it took for Eichel to find the top corner to beat Ottawa Senators’ goaltender Craig Anderson for his first career regular season NHL goal. The Sabres lost this contest but Eichel started his NHL career off on the right foot.
3. October 12, 2015 – Ryan O’Reilly
This goal resulted from good puck movement and positioning by the Sabres. While the assists on this goal went to Matt Moulson and Jamie McGinn, all of the Sabres on the ice played a role in O’Reilly’s goal. From the point, Franson fed the puck to Ennis. Ennis slows the play down for a few seconds before passing the puck to Jamie McGinn who was well-positioned behind the net. McGinn fed a quick pass to Moulson who then found a wide open Ryan O’Reilly. O’Reilly blasted the puck past Columbus Blue Jacket goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and he helped the Sabres get their first win of the season.
2. October 12, 2015 – Matt Moulson
The play leading to Moulson’s goal developed from a booming shot by Ristolainen and Blue Jackets’ goaltender Bobrovsky made the initial save. O’Reilly tried to score on the rebound but Bobrovsky got a piece of the shot and the puck moved behind the net. O’Reilly’s puck control was on full display as he drew two Columbus defensemen toward him. This created a lapse in coverage in front of the net. O’Reilly found Matt Moulson who was parked right in front of the Blue Jackets’ net and he lit the lamp for the Sabres’ fourth goal of the game.
1. November 10, 2015 – Jack Eichel
The Sabres’ top power play goal through 17 games played was scored by Eichel in Buffalo’s recent win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Eichel’s goal in this game showcased his pinpoint accuracy. With Eichel scoring goals like this, one gets visions of the youngster blasting through the foam targets at the All Star skills competition at a wicked pace in the not-so-distant future. The Sabres had great puck control and generated a scoring chance in the seconds before Eichel’s goal against Tampa Bay. Eventually the puck slides to Cody Franson who then passed it to Eichel. As the Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy seemed to have the net closed off, Eichel found a razor-thin seam between the goaltender and the post to score on the power play.
[See Also: Jake McCabe Elevating his Game in Buffalo]
Tim joined The Hockey Writers in July 2013. He began his tenure with THW by covering the Minnesota Wild and he now writes on the Buffalo Sabres. Tim completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University at Buffalo. In addition, he is a published historian and a Baltimore Orioles Contributing Writer for LegendsOnDeck.com. Tim’s work for THW has been featured on sites such as Yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @TOHockeyTHW