Eichel-led Sabres beat Red Wings 2-1 on power-play goals
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
By LARRY LAGE
AP Hockey Writer
DETROIT (AP) Jack Eichel is making up for lost time, closing his injury-shortened season strong.
Eichel scored on a power play in the first period, giving him a team-high 50 points in 52 games, to help the Buffalo Sabres beat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 on Monday night.
He made his 21st goal possible in the first period by knocking Detroit defenseman Nick Jensen off the puck behind the net and skating back out to the top of the left circle, where his one-timer got past goalie Petr Mrazek. Eichel also helped Buffalo's penalty-killing efforts.
"There's a lot more to his game than just the offensive stats," Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma said. "I think he's starting to play an all-around game."
Eichel , the No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft, missed the first 21 games this season with an ankle injury. He has at least one point in 15 of his last 17 games.
Matt Moulson scored on a power play in the second period, adding another goal to the tally for one of the NHL's best teams with an extra skater.
"Our power play has been great all year," Eichel said. "But we've had a couple bad games in a row, so it was nice to get those two."
Robin Lehner made 34 saves for the Sabres, who have won two straight for the first time in more than a month. They have an opportunity to pass sixth-place Florida in the Atlantic Division to end a three-year string of finishing seventh or eighth in the eight-team division. Buffalo hasn't made the playoffs since 2011.
Tomas Tatar scored in his third straight game, pulling Detroit within one midway through the second.
The Red Wings had power plays early and late in the third period but failed to take advantage of their opportunities to tie the game, falling to 0 for 4 with an extra skater.
"That's in the end the difference in the game," coach Jeff Blashill said.
It has also made a difference in the season, making Detroit one of the worst teams on the power play and in the standings.
The last-place Red Wings are five points behind Buffalo in the division. They're moving closer toward being mathematically eliminated from the postseason for the first time since 1990. Detroit had won two straight, giving it a chance to win three in a row for the first time in two months - and third time this season - to hold onto its slim hopes of rallying into the playoffs.
"If you count how many points we can get, it's going to be hard," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg acknowledged. "We've got to win out and a lot of teams have to do really bad. Even though it's not officially over, it's going to take a lot for us to make it."
Mrazek stopped 28 shots for Detroit.
NOTES: Buffalo D Brady Austin made his NHL debut and D Casey Nelson played for the first time in nearly two months, getting ice time because the Sabres scratched four defensemen due to injuries. ... The Red Wings scratched forward Darren Helm with a lower-body injury. He might be cleared to play Friday night at home against Tampa Bay. ... Detroit forward Tomas Nosek made his season debut after making his NHL debut last year and playing in six games. Red Wings forward Mitch Callahan was assigned to the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins. ... Bylsma, who is from Michigan, said he was leaving with something in his pocket to remember his last trip to Joe Louis Arena. The storied venue is being replaced next season by a new arena.
Sabres: Host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.
Red Wings: At the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.
Updated March 20, 2017