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Sharpen Up: January 17, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak / Sabres.com

Buffalo closes out another back-to-back set tonight in Toronto. The game against the Maple Leafs is set to start at 7:30 p.m. but make sure you join us for the TOPS Game Night pregame show starting at 7 on MSG. You can also listen live on WGR 550.

The Sabres are coming off a strong win over Dallas yesterday afternoon. Jack Eichel scored twice to earn first-star honors and Tyler Ennis also tallied in his return to the lineup. He missed 30 games after undergoing groin surgery.

Here's what you need to know.

Recap!

Video: Eichel, Lehner lead Sabres to 4-1 victory

In addition to the pair of goals, Eichel hit a few personal highs last night. He recorded a career-best 10 shots on goal, which is also the team's single-game high for the season. Buffalo put 29 shots on Kari Lehtonen, meaning Eichel accounted for 34.5 percent of the team's shot total. 

Eichel also set a career high with 13 faceoff wins, going 13-for-19 (68.4 percent). And on top of all that, the Sabres have improved to 18-7-2 (.704) in Eichel's career when he scores a goal and 13-3-1 (.794) when he tallies two or more points in a game.

He joined Brian Duff and Brad May on the Lexus Postgame Report:

Video: Jack Eichel on the postgame show

Tyler Ennis scored just 19 seconds into his return to the lineup after missing 30 games with a groin injury. Ennis now has eight points (4+4) in his last seven games against the Stars. Great to see Ennis back on the ice. 

And we also had RJ Cam locked and loaded yesterday. Here's RJ calling the goal:

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Well, that escalated quickly.Take a look behind-the-scenes as Rick Jeanneret calls Tyler Ennis' goal just 19 seconds in! #RJCam pic.twitter.com/Iw58y9E3nc

He skated on a line with Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo and the Sabres are hoping for continued success as they try to build some chemistry. 

Video: ENNIS: Postgame Interview vs. DAL

"I think he's just getting his feet underneath him, really, too," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "But you see it right off the hop, and that was not the only [time]. There was a couple other plays that that line made together that they were dangerous on. They could've had another goals, opportunities to score anyways. You hope that's just another air in the quiver to have in your team's offense."

Video: BYLSMA: Postgame Interview vs. Stars

He also tried a little something special during the game:

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Lacrosse-style trickery from Ennis �� Nearly connected! pic.twitter.com/IoRQv6MUd6

He's tried it before. He'll probably try it again. One of these days, it'll work and it'll be awesome.

Stay tuned for a new Beyond Blue and Gold episode soon, which will focus on his recovery from the concussion that cut his 2015-16 campaign short.

Video: McCABE: Postgame Interview vs. DAL

Jake McCabe logged his first goal since March 29, 2016 at Pittsburgh. It was his first career power-play goal and his first career game-winning goal. Robin Lehner made 31 saves. He had missed the last three games due to an illness.

 

Tonight's matchup

Toronto has climbed up to third place in the Atlantic Division, while Ottawa is now on the outside looking in because of tiebreakers. Buffalo is five points back of both teams with two more games played. The Leafs have been on fire lately, going 8-1-1 in their last 10, including a 4-2 win over the Senators on Saturday.

Auston Matthews leads them in scoring with 21 goals and 37 points. James van Riemsdyk (15+20) and Mitch Marner (10+25) are right behind him with 35 points each. 

"It's a good test for us. Toronto's been, obviously, really hot lately," Eichel said after yesterday's game. "We've just got to go up there and play similar to the way we did tonight and we should be successful."

As far as the Sabres go, keep an eye on Sam Reinhart, who has been super productive over the last 30 days or so. He's totaled 13 points (3+10) in his last 13 games.

Also, O'Reilly has recorded seven points (1+6) in six games since returning from a four-game absence following an appendectomy and Eichel has tallied nine points (5+4) in his last 10 games.

Who's been good on the road lately?

  • O'Reilly has 16 points (6+10) in 17 road games this season, including eight points (2+6) in his last eight.
  • Okposo has 16 points (8+8) in 22 road games this season, including four points in his last five (2+2).
  • Eichel has eight points (4+4) in 11 road games this season, including six points in his last six (3+3).
  • And Rasmus Ristolainen has 14 points (1+13) in 22 road games this season, including eight (1+7) in his last 11.

It could also be a big milestone night for Cody Franson. If he plays (as he's expected to), tonight's contest will marks his 500th NHL game. He played in Toronto from 2011 until 2015, so being at Air Canada Centre for it, could mean a little bit more than usual. 

 

On tap today

Stick with us for any roster and lineup news. We'll then have full postgame coverage including highlights, locker room interviews and a game recap.

Also at Sabres.com today, we'll have our Amerks Update to keep you up to speed on what's going on down on the farm. 

 

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