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Ristolainen, Scandella fuel resilient win over Kings

Eichel extends personal point streak; Ullmark makes 25 saves

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

Rasmus Ristolainen was at the end of a long shift when Adrian Kempe opened the scoring for the Los Angeles Kings inside KeyBank Center on Saturday afternoon. The Kings opened the second period by clogging the neutral zone and forechecking their way to Kempe's goal at the 1:32 mark. 

Ristolainen was on the ice for the entirety of those 92 seconds, and he wasn't happy about it. 

"I think we got a little pissed off," Ristolainen said. "I was out there. It was a tough shift, long shift. Personally, I got angry, so I hope we got angry. We got a couple long shifts in their zone and I think that really got us going."

"I don't think they can handle us down there, and we had those long shifts that grinded them down and gave us a lot of energy."

Video: Eichel extends streak, Sabres defeat Kings

The Sabres responded by scoring twice in the period off the sticks of Ristolainen and fellow defenseman Marco Scandella, setting the tone for what ended as a 3-2 victory. 

Buffalo shut down Los Angeles long enough for Victor Olofsson to deposit an empty-net goal with 1:33 remaining, extending his point streak to six games. Dustin Brown scored the Kings' second goal with just 37.7 left on the clock. 

It was a resilient effort from the Sabres following their 6-1 loss in Philadelphia on Thursday. Jack Eichel was back in the lineup after missing that game with an upper-body injury and looked like himself, tallying six shot attempts and an assist in a team-high 22:11. 

As important as the prescence of their captain was, so was the Sabres' ability to stick with their game plan in the face of adversity. None of the players who spoke after the game were happy with their first period, which ended scoreless but with a 10-6 shot advantage in favor of the Kings. 

When Kempe opened the scoring for Los Angeles to start the second, Buffalo responded with its best hockey.

"You could just feel everybody raise the game after the goal against," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "It really launched a strong stretch where I thought we could've had even more of a lead than we had."

"We were just playing with more confidence, tracking harder, getting pucks deep, and just feeling good about our game," added Scandella. 

Kempe's goal wasn't the only moment of adversity the Sabres faced in the period, either. Sam Reinhart had what would have been the go-ahead goal waved off because of an early whistle, a call that could have shifted momentum in either direction. Scandella's goal came less than a minute later, a slap shot from the point fed by Reinhart. 

"It shows resiliency," Scandella said. "We didn't let ourselves go down after that. We just kept pushing, and I felt like we had a really good second period."

Linus Ullmark robbed Anze Kopitar just before the horn sounded to end the second period, as big as any of the 25 saves he made in the victory. The Sabres entered the contest 13-0-0 when leading after two periods, a record they improved upon with their third-period effort. 

"I think more than anything, it's learning to deal with those situations, period," Krueger said. "Every team in this league has the skill and the danger to press when they're down in the third and to go all-in. It's always very threatening. I'm just proud of the guys understanding what it takes and the work and the inside positioning. 

"The management of the puck, especially, is something that we're getting better at all the time. We still have a ways to go. There were a couple of breakdowns we didn't like so much in the third, but you're always going to have them when a team pushes with that strength. But it is a mindset. It's playing for the team, sacrificing and doing what the team needs. That's how you get those finishes like we did today."

 

Eichel extends his (personal) point streak

Though his absence on Thursday ended Eichel's point streak in the eyes of the NHL record books, his secondary assist on Olofsson's goal extended his personal point streak to 18 games. It's the fifth-longest personal point streak of the last decade and ties Gilbert Perreault as the longest in Sabres history. 

Tweet from @SabresPR: Eichel's 18 straight games played with a point marks the fifth-longest personal point streak in the NHL in the last decade, trailing only Taylor Hall (26 in 2017-18), Patrick Kane (26 in 2015-16), Sidney Crosby (25 in 2010-11) and Patrick Kane (20 in 2018-19). https://t.co/hL7z8Pwwxw

Eichel said he felt better as the game wore on. 

"I felt good," he said. "Like, in the first period, I think it took me a little bit to get into it. But I think I got more into the game as it went on and started to feel better."

 

Up next

The Sabres have one game remaining before the Christmas break, in Ottawa on Tuesday night. Coverage on MSG begins at 7:30, or you can listen to the game on WGR 550. The puck drops at 8. 

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