RALEIGH, NC – With the illness that forced him to miss Saturday's game in Toronto now behind him, Jack Eichel was his usual self at the Buffalo Sabres' morning skate at PNC Arena on Tuesday. He smiled when he talked about being back in the lineup against the Carolina Hurricanes.
"When you go through something like that, it takes a few days to kind of get back to where you want to be," Eichel said. "I'm happy to be back with the guys."
Eichel fell ill early on Saturday and was scratched that night for the first time this season. Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said he will reassume his spot centering Zemgus Girgensons and Sam Reinhart against the Hurricanes.
Eichel has already experienced his fair share of success against Carolina. He's scored three times in two games against them, including netting the overtime winner with one second left on the clock on March 12.
"We did a lot of good things as team," Eichel said. "We had good goaltending, obviously that helps a lot. Our goalie made a lot of big saves."
The goalie for Buffalo in that game was Chad Johnson, who will again get the start on Tuesday. Johnson has allowed three goals on 58 shots in two victories against the Hurricanes this season. He is 6-1-0 with a .930 save percentage and a 2.12 goals-against average against them for his career.
The Hurricanes, meanwhile, have gone 0-1-2 since losing to Buffalo 10 days ago. But, like the Sabres, they've consistently played their competition close. Six of the Hurricanes' last seven games have ended in overtime or a shootout. The Sabres have gone to overtime five times since the beginning of March.
Coverage on Tuesday begins at 6:30 p.m. with Tops Sabres Gamenight on MSG-B and Bell TV. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
9 Evander Kane – 90 Ryan O'Reilly – 44 Nicolas Deslauriers
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 15 Jack Eichel – 23 Sam Reinhart
82 Marcus Foligno – 22 Johan Larsson – 12 Brian Gionta
19 Cal O'Reilly – 17 David Legwand – 26 Matt Moulson
4 Josh Gorges – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe – 47 Zach Bogosian
25 Carlo Colaiacovo – 3 Mark Pysyk
31 Chad Johnson
50 Nathan Lieuwen
FASCHING TO JOIN TEAM LATER THIS WEEK
Eichel sent a text to Hudson Fasching when news broke on Monday night that Fasching had just signed his entry-level contract with the Sabres. Eichel and Fasching played together with the U.S. National Development Team in 2012-13 and again for Team USA at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Now and for the remainder of the season, they'll be teammates again in Buffalo.
"I know he's had a great year this year," Eichel said. "He's a player that works really hard in all three zones. He's really good below the goal line with the puck and he gets to the net so he's a good guy to have."
Fasching completed his junior season at the University of Minnesota ranking second on the team with 38 points (20+18). Bylsma said Fasching will join the Sabres for practice later in the week (the team has a scheduled day off on Wednesday) and the potential for him to see game action will be decided from there. The Sabres host the Winnipeg Jets for an afternoon game on Saturday.
"Right now the plan is to get him in, get him into practice, get him a couple of practices under his belt and go from there," Bylsma said.
Bylsma had a chance to see Fasching up close at Development Camp in July, but his experience watching him actually dates back to the World Junior Championship in 2015. Fasching played on a line with Dylan Larkin, now an All-Star center with the Red Wings. Bylsma was impressed with what he saw.
"He was a part of probably the best line that USA put on the ice for that tournament," Bylsma said. "He's a big guy, a strong guy, a big-bodied guy in the middle of the ice, at the net. He's got some hands and some touch in and around the net. He's going to get a chance to show where he's at right now at this level."