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Sharpen Up: March 5, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak / Sabres.com

Jack Eichel's point streak has been impressive to watch over the last nine games. He has yet to record a point in three career games against Pittsburgh so if he wants to keep the streak alive (like that 2003 rom-com starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton) something's gotta give. 

In the time since his Nov. 29 return from an injury that sidelined him for 21 games, Eichel ranks 14th among all NHL skaters with 41 points (15+26) and leads the league with 175 shots on goal.

After last night's game, Eichel was tied with Dallas' Jamie Benn for most points since the beginning of February (20) and led all NHL players with 17 assists during that timeframe.

Eichel's point streak is the longest by a Sabre since Tim Connolly tallied points in 16 straight from Dec. 23, 2009 to Jan. 25, 2010. 

Here's what you need to know.

Video: BUF Recap: Sabres blanked in SO, lose to Lightning

Buffalo fell in the shootout last night to Tampa. Ryan O'Reilly scored on the power play late in the first period and Tampa eventually tied it 2:37 into the second thanks to Tyler Johnson. Buffalo and Tampa ended up with 32 shots each, leading up to the Sabres' first shootout since Dec. 20. 

And it ended pretty quickly. Sam Reinhart and Eichel were stopped by Andrei Vasilevskiy while Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov were both successful in their attempts against Robin Lehner. 

Buffalo is 1-6 in shootouts this season. 

From the game recap:

"We practice it enough," Reinhart said. "No matter how long you go in between, that's not that big of an issue. We were prepared going into it. At that point, it's a toss-up, but it's frustrating. We've have to be better at it."

Video: Reinhart: Postgame Interview vs. TBL

Goals have certainly been hard to come by the Sabres in the shootout - they're 3-for-17 this season - and it's been compounded by Lehner's struggles in the area. The goalie has been outstanding for the Sabres this season - he made 31 saves on Saturday - but he's 0-for-8 on shootout attempts.

Video: BYLSMA: Postgame Interview vs. TBL

"There's not a lot of ways to look at it," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "Tonight's a great example, he was outstanding in the game … He got us the point in the game. He's got a bit of a riddle, mystery about the shootout."

 

Check out more postgame reaction

Video: O'Reilly: Postgame Interview vs. TBL 

Video: Lehner: Postgame Interview vs. TBL 

 Video: Kane: Postgame Interview vs. TBL

 

Tonight's matchup

Tune in to the Tops Game Night pregame show starting at 4:30 today on MSG as we get you ready for the game in Pittsburgh. Faceoff is scheduled for just after 5 with Dan and Rayzor on the call. You can also listen to the game live on WGR 550.

Anders Nilsson started the last meeting between these two clubs, making 46 saves in a 2-1 shootout win at KeyBank Center. The Sabres are looking to win consecutive games against the Penguins for the first time since their last two road wins in Pittsburgh on April 2 and 23, 2013. Nilsson is 2-2-1 in his career against the Penguins with a .932 save percentage. We'll have word on a starting goalie later.

That last win over Pittsburgh was a rare one. The Sabres are 1-8-1 in their last 10 games against the Penguins, and 3-6-1 in their last 10 at what is now known as PPG Paints Arena.

Zach Bogosian has seven points (3+4) in his six games against the Penguins since the beginning of the 2013-14 season, including multi-point games in both meetings last season.

Evander Kane has eight points (3+5) in eight career visits to Pittsburgh, including three-point nights in each of his last two.

O'Reilly has points in each of his last three games against Pittsburgh, having tallied five points (1+4) in those games.
 

 

New Beyond Blue and Gold

The timing is unfortunate since he's now out week-to-week with a rib injury, but here is Kyle Okposo's Beyond Blue and Gold episode, focusing on his first All-Star experience. Okposo is tied with O'Reilly for the team lead in points with 43 (19+24).

Video: BBG: Okposo at All-Star Weekend

It'll air on the broadcast tonight.

 

On tap today

Stay with us for any pregame news when Bylsma speaks with the media today. 

Dmitry Kulikov left last night's game with an upper-body injury in the first period after being checked hard into the boards behind the Buffalo net. Bylsma had no further update after the game so we should have more info for you later.

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