Four goals for Buffalo. Four goals for Jack Eichel. That was the recipe for success Saturday night.
The Sabres captain carried his team to a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators at KeyBank Center in the first four-goal game of his career.
After the game, Eichel couldn't remember the last time he'd lit the lamp four times on a single night. Not in his freshman season at Boston University and not at the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, either.
"I don't know, probably like youth hockey. I don't honestly know," he said. "I never had four at BU or the program, so probably back in my Jr. Bruins days. It's been awhile."
The last time a Sabres player scored four goals was back on April 10, 2010 when Thomas Vanek did it against the Senators. Eichel became the seventh player in Sabres history to score at least four goals in a game. Rick Martin (four times), Dave Andreychuk (three times), Alexander Mogilny (twice), Lindy Ruff, Miroslav Satan, and Vanek are the other Sabres to accomplish the feat.
Video: POSTGAME: Jack Eichel
Video: Eichel scores four goals as Sabres top Senators
The big night came at a good time for the Sabres, who were able to snap an 0-4-2 stretch with the victory.
"There's no question his hunger to make plays is larger often than his hunger is to shoot. It was really good to see him shooting today," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "We've been speaking about it a lot lately in he really wants to get a balance. He wants to have that threat, it'll open up the guys for passes again.
"I'm sure this game will begin a good process in his mind to understand how lethal he can while still making plays as he also did tonight."
Buffalo never trailed in the game, but the Senators also just wouldn't go away. Eichel opened the scoring 1:28 into the second period on a shortside-shot goal Sabres fans have seen before.
Video: BUF@WSH: Eichel goes bar down after great move
Video: BUF@BOS: Eichel beats Rask short side for lead
Video: BUF@CGY: Eichel wins it in OT with wicked wrister
Video: OTT@BUF: Eichel snipes short side goal in the 2nd
Ottawa responded with a goal from Anthony Duclair at the 6:04 mark. Eichel was able to put Buffalo ahead again 9:39 into the period with a hard wrister, but once again, the Senators responded with a goal by Tyler Ennis on a deflection 2:01 into the third period.
Video: OTT@BUF: Eichel lets loose a wicked wrist shot
Eichel gave the Sabres a lead they wouldn't surrender with 7:47 remaining in the third for the hat trick.
Video: OTT@BUF: Eichel fires wrist shot to finish hat trick
He scored again with the net empty with 13.7 seconds left.
"He's a tough guy to contain, he's got tremendous speed obviously," Jeff Skinner, who recorded an assist, said. "He's got unreal skill and when he's coming down with speed, it's pretty difficult for the opposition to stop, and tonight he got some big ones for us.
"…He's got a great shot. He can score from pretty far out, which is a pretty nice little tool for him to have considering d-men have to respect his speed so they have to back off and give him a little bit of space. He played great tonight."
Video: POSTGAME: Rasmus Asplund
With Johan Larsson out with an upper-body injury, Rasmus Asplund made his NHL debut against the Senators.
Asplund skated 12:13 and saw about a minute of that time on the penalty kill. He recorded two shots and two hits, one of those checks coming on his very first shift.
"I just tried to get in the game right away so I was just trying to keep it simple," he said. "…I felt good. I played simple in the beginning and worked my way into the game, started to feel better and better and better. I'm happy with game."
Asplund said the role he was asked to play was similar to what he's used to in the AHL with Rochester. Krueger liked what he saw from the 21-year-old rookie.
"Outstanding, I mean, he was moving his feet all the time, both side of the puck, the penalty kill, he was creating offensive chances, he played without fear and showed a lot of courage," Krueger said. "It's what we saw in training camp.
"It was an exciting first game for anybody to come into the NHL and do what he did. To end it with a win, I'm sure he'll never forget this night."
Video: POSTGAME: Ralph Krueger
Forward Kyle Okposo left the game with 10:35 remaining in the second period and did not return due to injury. Krueger said he'll be re-evaluated in the morning.
The Sabres are also without forwards Marcus Johansson and Vladimir Sobotka. While Johansson and Sobotka won't be ready to play in Buffalo's next game on Sunday, Larsson is considered day-to-day.
They also have two healthy defensemen serving as healthy scratches in Colin Miller and John Gilmour. Stay tuned to Sabres.com for updates.
Hockey Fights Cancer Night
Video: Hockey Fights Cancer 2019 In-Arena Video Open
Cancer patients Ed Worden, 92, and Andre "The Warrior" Sanders, 4, participated in tonight's pregame ceremony as part of Hockey Fights Cancer Night presented by Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
"I was a little emotional there on the bench. I had to kind of look away from the jumbotron a few times," Eichel, who took part in the ceremonial faceoff said. "I think it puts a lot of things in perspective, right? We're in a tough spot with the way we've been going lately, a couple losses here and there, and then something like that comes in front of you and you realize people are dealing with a lot bigger issues than losing hockey games.
"…Almost anybody in the world can say that in some way, shape or form they've had someone close to them or someone they know that's dealt with cancer and had to overcome it or battle it, I think it puts a lot of things in perspective in life and how lucky and fortunate we are. It's pretty amazing that you're able to impact people like that."
Fifty patients of Roswell Park were on the ice for the puck drop.
You can watch the full presentation here:
Video: Sabres' 2019 Hockey Fights Cancer Pregame Ceremony
Linus Ullmark, who made 21 saves to earn the victory, wore a special Hockey Fights Cancer mask that was auctioned off to benefit Roswell Park.
Video: Linus Ullmark on the postgame show
The Sabres are headed to Chicago where they'll face the Blackhawks on Sunday at United Center.
It's a 7 p.m. faceoff with the Buick Game Night pregame show starting at 6:30 on MSG.