It's safe to say Jack Eichel enjoys playing the Ottawa Senators.
The Sabres captain scored all four Buffalo goals to lead the team to a 4-2 victory over the Senators at KeyBank Center on Saturday night. It was the second hat trick of Eichel's career and the Sabres' first four-goal game since Thomas Vanek on April 10, 2010 - also against Ottawa.
Sam Reinhart tallied a pair of assists and Linus Ullmark made 21 saves for the Sabres, who snapped a six-game winless streak.
Anthony Duclair and Tyler Ennis scored for the Senators. Craig Anderson made 28 saves.
As for Eichel, he now has 23 points (9+14) in 14 career games against the Sabres' Atlantic Division rival, his highest total against any opponent.
Following a first period in which the Sabres earned two power plays and outshot the Senators, 13-5, Eichel opened the scoring with his first goal just 1:28 into the second. The Sabres captain scooped up a loose puck in the neutral zone, crossed the blue line with speed and picked the near-side corner.
Each time the Senators responded from that point on, Eichel had an answer of his own.
Duclair tied the game with the Senators on the power play later in the second period, seconds after Rasmus Ristolainen left the box to conclude a 5-on-3 advantage. Eichel buried his second goal less than four minutes later, scored from the slot on a feed from Victor Olofsson.
Ennis tipped a shot past Ullmark to tie the game at 2-2 just 2:01 into the third period. This time, Eichel answered with a burst of end-to-end speed that ended with him ripping a shot short side, giving the Sabres another lead and Eichel a well-earned breather as hats were collected off the ice.
Eichel capped the night with an empty-net goal, scored from the neutral zone with 13.7 seconds remaining.
What it means
Facing a Senators team that had won four of its last five contests, the Sabres stuck through a tightly contested game and improved to 10-6-3. Eichel scored two of his four goals in truly unguardable fashion, raising his team-leading total to 12 in 19 games.
On the injury front, the Sabres played the final period and a half without Kyle Okposo, who left the game following a collision with Senators forward Ron Hainsey midway through the second. They entered the night without Vladimir Sobotka (out four to six weeks), Marcus Johansson (out through the weekend), and Johan Larsson (day-to-day).
Rasmus Asplund made his NHL debut in place of Larsson, tallying two shots in 12:13.
Roll the Highlight Film
Here are all four of Eichel's goals, in order.
Video: OTT@BUF: Eichel lets loose a wicked wrist shot
Video: OTT@BUF: Eichel snipes short side goal in the 2nd
Video: OTT@BUF: Eichel fires wrist shot to finish hat trick
Video: OTT@BUF: Eichel pots empty-netter for 4th tally
The Sabres head to Chicago to play the Blackhawks on Sunday. Coverage on MSG begins at 6:30 p.m., or you can listen live on WGR 550. The puck drops at 7.