Sabres snap skid with 4-1 win over Hurricanes
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Sabres' penalty kill bailed out Jack Eichel after a bad giveaway, and Buffalo's rookie star paid them right back with another precision goal.
Eichel picked up a loose puck at center ice, and fired a hard wrister over Cam Ward's right shoulder for his eighth goal of the season, and the Buffalo Sabres beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 on Friday night to end a six-game losing streak.
''Coming down my strong side, trying to go across the goalie's body at his blocker,'' Eichel said. ''Everybody can catch a puck these days, so I tried to keep it away from his glove.''
Buffalo had just killed off an interference penalty against Zach Bogosian that resulted from Eichel's turnover after the rookie stickhandled into his own zone.
''It's a big goal and I thought after that play, after that penalty kill, the game changed for us,'' Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said.
Chad Johnson made 27 saves and Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta and David Legwand also scored for Buffalo. Jamie McGinn had two assists and the Sabres had lost their last four home games.
Victor Rask scored Carolina's only goal, and the Hurricanes failed to pick up a point for the first time in five games.
''It was a tough night,'' Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce said. ''They played well. They're a fast, skilled team. They're really good in transition and capitalized.''
Cam Ward stopped 11 of 14 shots before being replaced by Eddie Lack after two periods. Lack stopped 6 of 7 shots.
''Looking for a spark,'' Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. ''I didn't necessarily love any of the goals tonight myself, but that's just me.''
The Sabres opened the scoring when Gorges' bouncing shot through traffic took a turn off Ward and trickled just over the line at the 10:35 mark.
It was Gorges' first goal in 130 games. He hadn't scored in 69 games with Buffalo and last scored for Montreal against Vancouver on Oct. 12, 2013.
''It's been a long time,'' Gorges said. ''It wasn't much of a goal but I'll take it and we needed to get the first goal tonight and play with the lead.
Carolina tied it about 5 minutes into the second period after Gionta gave the puck away deep in the Sabres zone. Johnson stopped Eric Staal's initial shot, but Rask jammed the rebound across the line.
That's when the Sabres killed Bogosian's penalty, and Eichel broke the tie high and hard over Ward's right shoulder.
''I was pretty far out,'' Eichel said. ''I don't know if he was expecting a shot at that point. Just trying to shoot with speed and pick my corner.''
Gionta and Matt Moulson ran a give-and-go that ended with Gionta redirecting a hard pass inside the near post to make it 3-1 just 22 seconds before the end of the second period.
Buffalo beat Lack 6 minutes into his shift. Cody Franson pinched in from the left point to grab a loose puck behind the Carolina net and then fed Legwand up front. The veteran wristed a low shot past Lack to make it 4-1.
''That was a set play, going forward to try and put pressure on them,'' Franson said. ''Pretty simple play getting it back behind the net and hitting Legwand in the slot.''
Johnson didn't appear troubled in making picking up his fourth win of the season. The veteran is 2-1-1 with a .951 save percentage this month.
''One of my benefits or downfalls is it looks too easy sometimes,'' Johnson said. ''I try to be in position so I'm not making miraculous glove saves. I try to work hard to have good edges and good pushes.''
NOTES: Sabres F Tyler Ennis missed a second-straight game with an upper-body injury. ... With five wins, Johnson has beaten Carolina more than any other team, while Gorges has eight points against the Hurricanes, the second-highest total for the defenseman against a single team. ... The win is Buffalo's 100th all-time against the Carolina/Hartford franchise.