It took a span of 14 games over two seasons, but Buffalo Sabres rookie Sam Reinhart finally broke the goal threshold for the first time in his career during his team’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.
The 19-year old — also a second-overall draft pick like fellow rookie Jack Eichel — was finally getting his chance on the Sabres’ top line with Ryan O’Reilly and Tyler Ennis. He only took 2:52 to validate that decision by coach Dan Bylsma.
With the puck in the Tampa zone, Reinhart put pressure on Alex Killorn before Ennis took control of the puck. After Ennis’ shot is kicked away by Ben Bishop, the shifty forward sent a pass out in front of the net where Reinhart was waiting to bury the puck.
The goal gave the Sabres an early 1-0 lead, but it would be the only marker they would get on the night. Bishop would stop 31 shots while Vladislav Namestnikov and the aforementioned Killorn would both tally goals to give the Lightning a 2-1 victory.
The loss dropped Buffalo to 1-4 on the season. In their five games, the Sabres have just nine goals which is less than two per contest. Buffalo is off under Wednesday when the team returns home from their Florida road trip for a date the rival Toronto Maple Leafs.
Still, despite the loss, Saturday night was no doubt a memorable night for the young Reinhart. With a family bloodline that lives NHL, Reinhart is one of Buffalo’s most anticipated young players, and is expected to be a key contributor to the success of the organization. To finally get the goal, he said afterward, was a big weight lifted off his shoulders.
“It was good. I felt that I’ve been getting a lot of opportunities and to finally see it go in was a relief for sure,” Reinhart told Sabres.com.
Bylsma also added that the way Reinhart played overall on Saturday was good to see. From the chemistry he showed with his linemates to his presence in front of the net, which included a prime opportunity to give Buffalo the lead in the third, the first-year Head Coach had nothing but good things to say of his play.
“Sam gets the goal, I thought that line was pretty good offensively and we saw on the power play with him as well,” he said. “He’s been great at the net.”
Michael is a former Managing Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s covered the Buffalo Sabres, along with the NHL in general, for various outlets since 2009. His work has been featured on outlets such as Yahoo, Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports.