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game recap

Rookies rally Sabres to win against Jets

Reinhart scores tying goal, sets up Eichel for winner; Fasching nets first in NHL

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

Eichel snipes it past Hutchinson

WPG@BUF: Eichel beats Hutchinson for the lead

3/26/16: Jack Eichel fires a wrist shot from the slot past Michael Hutchinson, giving the Sabres a 3-2 lead in the 3rd

  • 00:51 •

BUFFALO -- The youth movement for the Buffalo Sabres was more than apparent Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.

Sam Reinhart had a goal and an assist, Jack Eichel had the game-winner, and Hudson Fasching scored his first NHL goal to help the Sabres to a 3-2 win against the Jets at First Niagara Center. 

Reinhart tied the game 2-2 with his 21st goal 1:23 into the third period and then set up Eichel at 4:07.

"I tried to use my shot to my ability there," said Eichel, who scored his 23rd of the season. "Sam makes a great play in the neutral zone, causes a turnover, and hits me with a lot of speed. I just tried to put on one net and it's nice to get rewarded."

Video: WPG@BUF: Reinhart buries one past Hutchinson

Reinhart picked the puck off the stick of Jets forward Alexander Burmistrov in the neutral zone and made a no-look backhand pass to Eichel, who accelerated through the neutral zone past defenseman Mark Stuart. Eichel's shot beat Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson low to his right side.

"Anytime Jack gets himself that open, you just kind of watch from there," Reinhart said. "You can't really say much about that shot. … He's so smart, he finds the soft area, and I think one of our players was coming back. I was able to kind of turn and find them."

Eichel's goal gave him 50 points this season. He's the ninth Sabres rookie to hit 50 points and the first since Derek Plante in 1993-94. Eichel's fifth game-winning goal leaves him one shy of the Sabres rookie record set by Donald Audette in 1991-92. 

"I think you want to keep getting better and never be satisfied," Eichel said. "I think I've gotten better as the season went on, and that's what I wanted to do. I'm learning a lot about playing away from the puck and playing in our [defensive] zone and playing a full 200-foot game, and it's great to get rewarded on the offensive side of things, but there [have] been a lot of other areas of my game that I'm excited to keep getting better at."

Video: WPG@BUF: Johnson denies Wheeler's backhander

Chad Johnson made 17 saves for the Sabres (31-34-10), who have won two straight games. The Jets (31-38-6) lost for the first time in three games and were eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention. Hutchinson made 26 saves. 

The Sabres trailed 2-0 early in the first period. After Jets forwards Nikolaj Ehlers and Andrew Copp scored 42 seconds apart in the first 5:09 of the first period for Winnipeg, Fasching scored his first NHL goal on his first shot 3:28 later.

Fasching drove to the net and deked past Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba before he put a shot past Hutchinson. He signed his entry-level contract Monday after his season ended at the University of Minnesota.

"It's really exciting; it's kind of a dream come true," Fasching said. "I was talking to my buddies and my parents and I was like, 'If I score in my first game I don't know what I'm going to do.' I'm going to be blacked out on adrenaline and so excited. ... that was almost the case. I was so excited out there. It was a really happy moment for me."

Video: WPG@BUF: Fasching beats Hutchinson for first NHL goal

Sabres defensemen Mark Pysyk and Casey Nelson assisted on Fasching's goal. Nelson and Fasching each made his NHL debut and got their first point on the same play.

"[Nelson] was skating well skating, distributing well, moving to the middle of the ice," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "I was like, 'I'd like him to see him look to the net and take a shot [on a second-period power play]'. But I thought he skated really well, thought he showed the way he could skate and move, was fine defending."

All three Sabres goal-scorers are younger than 21 years old. Fasching is the oldest of the three.

"The first thing that pops into your mind is that the future is bright in that category," Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian said. "It's always good to see your young guys chip in and get more and more comfortable, the way Sam and Jack have all year. Obviously, with [Fasching] and [Nelson] getting their first taste of things, it's a step in the right direction for them and the team as well. It's good to have some success that way."

Video: WPG@BUF: Jets score twice in less than a minute

The Jets led 1-0 when Ehlers skated up the right wing after he received a pass from Mark Scheifele past Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe and put a shot past Johnson for his 14th goal 4:27 into the period. 

Copp then drove the net and put a shot off Johnson that bounced in the crease and across the goal line. Video review confirmed the puck crossed the line legally.

"You've got to be mentally strong," Copp said. "There's always going to be some highs and some lows. I think we didn't handle a 2-0 start maybe as well as we want to. We didn't get lackadaisical but we didn't stay on it as much as we want to. We need to handle successes just as well as we handle failure."

Bylsma challenged the call for goaltender interference, but review confirmed no interference occurred. 

"I thought there was incidental contact," Johnson said. "I don't think it was intentional, but he did move me out of position. I talked to the ref and he said, again, it was his follow-through, so I don't know what the rule is on that but for me, again, it seemed like he interfered with me whether it was intentional or unintentional, so they called it a goal. I think we did a good job of just forgetting about it."

Video: Two-goal 3rd propels Sabres past Jets, 3-2

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