Buffalo Sabres fans got exactly what they wanted Thursday night at Keybank Center in Buffalo, NY as the Sabres (19-32-8, 46 points) spoiled Jack Eichel’s return with the Vegas Golden Knights (32-21-4, 68 points). Both Peyton Krebs and Alex Tuch, who were traded to the Sabres in the Eichel deal scored goals as Buffalo went on to win the game 3-1.
Eichel made his return to KeyBank Center for the first time since being traded to the Golden Knights. Every time he touched or was near the puck Thursday night he was booed.
During the first TV timeout of the game, he was honored by the Sabres organization with a video tribute which was met with some mixed reactions from the fans. LINK
— Owen Krepps (@OKrepps85) March 11, 2022
Fellow former Golden Knight Robin Lehner along with Reilly Smith were unavailable to the Golden Knights Thursday. Lehner has flown back to Las Vegas to have further tests on a reported lower-body injury. Logan Thompson was recalled and Laurent Brossoit started against the Sabres.
The pace of the game to start was in favor of the Sabres with good chances from Alex Tuch and Casey Mittelstadt. They led in shots 5-0 five minutes into the game and got a powerplay chance as Nicolas Roy went off for hooking
The Sabres ended up scoring first with Vinnie Hinostroza centering a pass right to Peyton Krebs who scored against his former team.
Krebs then took two-straight minor penalties but the Golden Knights managed only one shot on goal during both. Their first shot of the game came 9:19 into the first period by Max Pacioretty.
The officiating Thursday night was interesting, to say the least.
With the possibility of losing to yet another basement-dwelling team on the line for the Golden Knights words were said in the locker room during the first intermission. Early in the second, Ben Hutton dropped the gloves with John Hayden to try and give the VGK a spark.
Another scrap then started just minutes later as Casey Fitzgerald ran into Jonas Rondbjerg and Keegan Kolesar didn’t take kindly to it. Kolesar and Fitzgerald fought but a few extra jabs were thrown by Kolesar which earned him an extra two minutes in the box.
All penalties were killed off and the Golden Knights slowly but surely started up their offense. But once again they struggled to score and made Craig Anderson look good as he stopped chances such as a Rondbjerg breakaway and another Golden Knights powerplay
Desperation was once again the name of the game for the Golden Knights who scored zero goals through two periods against the Sabres.
But all it takes is one as a floating wrist shot from Hutton finally snapped the Golden Knights drought. William Carrier provided a screen on Anderson and just like that the game was tied.
But before the Golden Knights could gain any momentum of their first goal of the game, Jonathan Marchessault took a penalty for slashing. The Sabres scored on the ensuing powerplay with Victor Olofsson getting the tally.
The desperation plan of attack hit the ice with Brossoit to the bench and the Golden Knights trying to tie the game up. But once again it was a little too late for the VGK who allowed an empty-net goal from Tuch and lost the game 3-1.
Only the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, Anaheim Ducks, and now Toronto Maple Leafs and Vegas Golden Knights have lost both the tanking/rebuilding Coyotes and Sabres.
The Golden Knights will play the third game of their current five-game road trip Friday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena. Puck drop is slated for 4:00 pm PST.
See you there.
VHN’s Player of the Game: Ben Hutton
Because who else do I have to choose from here?