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Sharpen Up: All the Sabres news you need to know on January 3, 2020

Eichel scored OT winner on penalty shot, Sabres acquired Frolik as part of busy Thursday

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Jack Eichel became the first player in Buffalo Sabres history to score on a penalty shot in overtime when he beat Mike Smith last night in Buffalo's 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

Eichel now has a franchise-record seven overtime goals in his career and he's at 26 on the season, which is third in the NHL. 

Buffalo hosts the Florida Panthers tomorrow at KeyBank Center. '90s Night will start at 1 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.

The Sabres have a new player on the way, too, after trading for Michael Frolik. Yes, yesterday was a busy day for Sabres news, which leads us to a jam-packed edition of Sharpen Up.

Here's what you need to know.


Let's start with last night's game

Video: Eichel scores on OT penalty shot, Sabres top Oilers

From the Postgame Report…

Jack Eichel briefly gazed toward the rafters as he drifted to center ice with the game on his stick. Every other set of eyes in the building were on him. 

If there was a lot on his mind in the moments preceding his overtime penalty shot on Thursday, the Sabres captain wasn't going to reveal it afterward. 

"Just try to score, honestly," Eichel said. "I don't know. Just come down, shoot it. (The) ice isn't good, I was fighting it a little bit tonight. So just come down, keep it simple, try to shoot the puck."

Eichel stuck to that script, beating Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith with a wrist shot to his glove side to complete a 3-2 come-from-behind victory. 

Video: Eichel's postgame show interview

Video: POSTGAME: Krueger 

It was a thrilling conclusion to a game that began poorly for the Sabres. Riley Sheahan and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored goals to give Edmonton a 2-0 lead just seven minutes into the contest. The Sabres adjusted quickly, cutting the deficit in half on a goal from Curtis Lazar in the first period and tying the game on a deflection from Sam Reinhart in the third. Linus Ullmark finished with 25 saves. 

Eichel's goal was a tale of two plays, the penalty shot itself and the end-to-end drive that drew the call in the first place.

Late in the first minute of the overtime period, Eichel caught his breath behind the Edmonton net. He stayed patient as Rasmus Ristolainen and Sam Reinhart took turns curling low, carrying defenders with them away from the net and up the ice. After some 12 seconds behind the goal line, he pounced on a chance to take defenseman Oskar Klefbom 1-on-1. 

Eichel sped to the left ahead of Klefbom, then deked around a charging Leon Draisaitl in the neutral zone. He had Klefbom draped on his back as he attempted a shot from the slot, drawing a hooking call. 

Video: Martin Biron breaks down Eichel's OT shift vs. EDM

Video: EDM@BUF: Eichel converts on penalty shot in overtime

After the ruling was made, Lazar and Reinhart shared the same thought on the Buffalo bench. 

"Just thinking I'm glad Jack had it and not me," Lazar said.

"Thank God it's him taking it," added Reinhart. "You just kind of sit back and watch him do his thing. It was a good play on him to get the breakaway from behind our net so that was a big one for us."

Video: POSTGAME: Lazar

Video: POSTGAME: Reinhart 

Read the full recap here.


Frolik headed to Buffalo

From our story at last night…

Jason Botterill had been in the market to swap a defenseman for a forward, an objective that came to fruition with a series of deals on Thursday evening. 

The Buffalo Sabres acquired a fourth-round pick from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for defenseman Marco Scandella, then flipped the pick to the Calgary Flames for forward Michael Frolik. 

Frolik, 31, has tallied five goals and five assists in 38 games with Calgary this season. His resume includes eight seasons with at least 10 even-strength goals (he scored 14 last season), 10 seasons with at least 10 total goals, and a Stanley Cup championship with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013. 


"We were trying to add to our forward group here and with Michael we like his even-strength play," Botterill said. "We think he's a very strong 5-on-5 player. He's also a player that has championship pedigree. He's been in the playoffs before, won a Stanley Cup. 

"Then you look at how we've played over the last few weeks. I think we've played pretty well at 5-on-5, but our special teams have to be better. We think Michael can come in and help us on our penalty kill. We see him as a winger who can play up and down our lineup and we're certainly excited to have him."

Frolik is not expected to arrive in time for the Sabres' home game against the Florida Panthers on Saturday. Botterill said next week is more realistic, making next Thursday's game in St. Louis a possible target for his debut. 

Read more here. 

'90s Night primer

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Matthew Barnaby, Stu Barnes, Dave Hannan, Brad May and more...They're all comin' back on Saturday! See you there:

The Buffalo Sabres will celebrate one of the most transformative decades in team history on Saturday. 

It's '90s Night presented by Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center as the Sabres take on the Florida Panthers at KeyBank Center. The opening faceoff has been moved to 1 p.m. so maybe it's actually '90s Day now. 

The 1990s will forever be remembered for overtime playoff goals by Brad May, Dave Hannan and Derek Plante, a 70-save performance in the playoffs by Dominik Hasek, 76 goals from Alexander Mogilny, the closing of The Aud, the debut of the red and black jerseys, the first game at what is now KeyBank Center, a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 1999, and many more moments.

Nearly two dozen alumni are back in town for the game, and the first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a decade-themed pennant.  

More details here.


Skills Challenge is Sunday

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: 90s Day Saturday afternoon ������Bills game Saturday evening ������Skills Challenge Sunday ������Get ready for a #OneBuffalo weekend:

Don't miss the Sabres Skills Challenge on Sunday at KeyBank Center, where the team will compete in an All-Star-style event. Doors open at 9 a.m. for an alumni autograph session. The main event will kick off at 11.   

For a rundown of the event, click here.  

Tickets are $10 and are on sale now. 

World Juniors update

Watch: Youtube Video

From our recap of the day's action...

Dylan Cozens (1st round, 2019) tallied two assists and a game-high seven shots as Canada advanced to the semifinals of the IIHF World Junior Championship with a 6-1 victory over Slovakia on Thursday.  

Cozens was one of three Sabres prospects who saw action in quarterfinal play. Mattias Samuelsson (2nd round, 2018) and Team USA dropped a 1-0 contest to Finland, while Matej Pekar (4th round, 2018) and the Czech Republic fell to Sweden, 5-0. 

Swedish goaltender Erik Portillo (3rd round, 2019) is also participating in the tournament, though he has not dressed to date. 

Cozens and the Canadians will face reigning champion Finland in the semifinal round on Saturday. The forward ranks second on Team Canada and tied for fifth among all skaters with eight points in five contests. He leads his team with a plus-five rating.

Read more here.  

Olofsson named Rookie of the Month

From our story yesterday afternoon…

Victor Olofsson was named the NHL's Rookie of the Month for the second time this season, the league announced Thursday.  

Olofsson led league rookies in goals (6), points (14), game-winning goals (2), and average ice time (20:31) in 14 games in December. It's the highest point total by a Sabres rookie in a calendar month since Tyler Myers tallied 14 points in March of his Calder Trophy winning 2009-10 campaign.

His season totals of 16 goals and 34 points lead NHL rookies. He was previously named Rookie of the Month for October.

Olofsson began December with three straight multi-point games, only the eighth such streak by a rookie in franchise history. Tyler Ennis was the last to string together three multi-point games, from Jan. 15 to 20, 2011.

Read more here.

Olofsson left last night's game early in the third period after falling into the end boards as Sam Reinhart scored the game-tying goal. 

We'll have an update on his status for you here on

The Sabres are scheduled to practice at noon today. 

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