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Sharpen Up: March 8, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

In a season plagued with disappointing finishes, Tuesday's 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers was definitely another tough one to swallow. The game was tied 2-2 midway through the second period before the Flyers scored four in a row to pull away from KeyBank Center with two points. 

The Sabres now find themselves eight points back of Boston for third in the Atlantic with one more game played and seven points behind the Islanders for the second Wild Card spot (New York has two games in hand). Buffalo has 66 points with only 15 games remaining on the schedule.

Here's what you need to know.



Video: BUF Recap: Eichel shines in 6-3 loss to Flyers


From the Game Recap

Video: BYLSMA: Postgame

"I thought we weren't ready to play the game, that's what it looked like," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "Maybe a little shell-shocked, maybe back on our heels from the previous game."

Video: GIONTA: Postgame

"We weren't ready right from the start," captain Brian Gionta added. "The first period they took it to us. We were lucky to come out tied."

The Flyers went on to outscore the Sabres for the remaining 40 minutes of what ended as a 6-3 Philadelphia win. The loss was Buffalo's seventh in eight games, all of which can be attributed to the Sabres deviating at times - be it at the start of the game or while trying to protect a lead - from the simple, offensive-zone style that makes them successful.

Video: LEHNER: Postgame

"We make the same turnovers that cause us to lose momentum in the game and cause us to play in the D-zone for too long and all of a sudden we're on our heels when we need to be playing it simple and managing the puck," defenseman Cody Franson said. "I think right now we're trying to do a little too much with the puck and in doing so, turning the puck over and playing too much defense because of it."

Video: BOGOSIAN: Postgame

Such was the case on Philadelphia's first goal of the night. Jack Eichel carried the puck into the neutral zone and attempted to beat three defenders in the process. Philadelphia forced a turnover, and seconds later Matt Read opened the scoring.

"You're talking about not being ready to play, our puck management there … We're trying to go through three guys 1-on-3 in the neutral zone, it gets turned over, goes into the D-zone and you get the first one, a tip goal, as the result of exactly that," Bylsma said.

Eichel's streak continues

One bright spot during this rough stretch has been Eichel's offensive output. With two goals and an assist, he extended his point streak to 11 games. It's the longest active point streak in the NHL and one point shy of the league's longest streak this season (Minnesota's Mikael Granlund had a 12-game point streak that ran from Jan. 12 to Feb. 4).

Eichel has five goals and 11 assists over the last 11 games and last night, he notched his 99th, 100th and 101st career points.

At 20 years and 130 days, Eichel became the third-youngest player in Sabres history to reach this milestone, behind only Pierre Turgeon (19 years, 156 days) and Phil Housley (19 years, 276 days).

Eichel also finished the game with the league lead in points since Feb. 1 (24) and tied for seventh with 45 points (18+27) in 46 games since returning from injury on Nov. 29.

Evander Kane, who scored Buffalo's first goal, also has been on an absolute tear as of late. Kane tied Filip Forsberg for the second-most goals in the NHL since Dec. 1 (24). 

As of the end of the game, Kane was tied for 22nd in the league in goals (24) despite not scoring his first until Dec. 3.

With an assist on Eichel's first goal, Ryan O'Reilly extended his point streak to five games (3+4).

On tap today

The Sabres have a scheduled off day so we'll have full practice coverage for you tomorrow. The Sabres' next game is in Columbus on Friday.

So in the meantime, check out a new edition of #Duffalo here at later today. Brian Duff will fill you in on what's been happening behind the scenes and away from the rink in his monthly blog. 

We'll also be sharing a new teaser for Saturday's new Beyond Blue and Gold on social media. The Ottawa Brawl Game episode will air during the entirety of the first intermission of Saturday's game on MSG. 


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