BUFFALO – After scoring a goal and helping spoil Jack Eichel’s return, Peyton Krebs gave his good friend, Alex Tuch, a hug to celebrate perhaps the Sabres’ most exciting victory in years.
Krebs and Tuch, having arrived from the Vegas Golden Knights in the blockbuster Eichel trade, will forever be linked together. The wingers have embraced the opportunities that materialized when they departed one of the NHL’s elite teams to join a rebuilding one.
So Thursday’s thrilling 3-1 win over Vegas, a win Tuch cemented by stealing the puck from Eichel and scoring an empty-net goal, felt extra special.
“I want the best for Jack, but that was exciting,” Krebs said. “Me and Tuchy, we’re passionate about playing here in Buffalo. We want to do the best we can for this organization. And that felt good giving that guy a hug. It’s just exciting.”
The triumph, just the Sabres’ 19th this season, offered a glimpse into what could be a special future. There was a lot to like.
“It was against my old team, felt really good, but it showed a lot of character and maturity,” Tuch said.
– Krebs and Tuch illustrated how they’re quickly becoming major pieces of the Sabres.
– Coach Don Granato lauded the sacrifice his players made for each other in eking out a gritty win.
Winger Rasmus Asplund left the game with a lower-body injury after blocking a shot. Meanwhile, defenseman Casey Fitzgerald departed with an upper-body injury after fighting.
– The Sabres, who have wilted under pressure late so many times this season, received the go-ahead power-play goal from winger Victor Olofsson 16:16 into the third period.
“Guys just kept feeding off each other and one guy seemed to almost outdo the next as the game went along,” Granato said. “So fun to be a part of.”
The crowd of 12,437 fans, the largest at KeyBank Center this season, ate it all up.
“It was electric tonight,” Tuch said. “It was a phenomenal feeling, and to get a win in front of that big a crowd is something that really goes a long way.”
Sabres fans booed Eichel mercilessly all night. In warm-ups. When they heard his name announced in the starting lineup.
When Thursday’s opening faceoff rolled around, the crowd seemed to be frothing. Many of the spectators booed the ultra-talented center every time he touched the puck.
He even heard boos mixed with cheers during a video welcoming him back that highlighted his work in the community. Seriously.
Eichel, the face of the franchise for six seasons, reportedly wanted out of Buffalo long before he injured his neck last season and the Sabres refused to let him undergo the surgery he preferred.
The crowd inside the noisy rink never let up. The fans booed him before faceoffs and even when he stepped on the ice. When he got tossed out of the faceoff circle or knocked down, they cheered.
“This is about the loudest I’ve heard this place,” Eichel said. “Really. After it only took seven years and me leaving for them to get into the game. But I’m sure it was mixed. It was a nice tribute. And there was plenty of people here who were supporting me, and plenty of people who were booing. They must be booing because they wish I was still here.”
Incredibly, the crazy game overshadowed Sabres goalie Craig Anderson’s 300th NHL victory. Anderson, 40, was stellar all night, making 30 saves. Only Ben Hutton long’s point shot 12:01 into the third period beat him.
Following the win, the Sabres honored Anderson with a tribute on the video boards that featured family members and teammates.
“It’s a great moment to take it and just enjoy it,” Anderson said. “You just don’t know how the game is going to go. You don’t know how the night, what the future holds. But you try to stay in the moment as best you can and take it all in.”
Krebs said: “For him to come here, 21st (pro) season, that just shows the guy right there and his passion toward hockey, toward his teammates. Nothing but great things to say about that guy.”
One thought on “Peyton Krebs, Alex Tuch lead Sabres over Jack Eichel, Golden Knights”
This is real Buffalo Sabres hockey! As much as I wish Buffalo fans would show a bit more class (I was born in Buffalo and raised in Western New York so I believe I can gently criticize), I can’t ever fault their passion and loyalty for their sports teams. Jack Eichel was the face of the franchise, but he wasn’t the sole cause of the Sabres woes. The list is a mile long of who is “at fault” – players, coaches, GM’s, and a good portion of past and present management. That said it’s the past. I like what the future is beginning to look like. The Sabres didn’t do badly at all in the trade. Both Tuch and Krebs are huge assets if only in their positive attitude and passion., but of course they bring so much more. Plus, they weren’t the only assets the Sabres got, or will get.
It’s too bad Craig Anderson’s accomplishments were overshadowed by Jack Eichel’s return to Buffalo, but at least Eichel brought in a lot of fans, and I believe that was a significant factor in the Sabres win. Fans should keep supporting the present Sabres team, good things are happening and the support of the crowd is important, not to mention exciting. Too bad the game was only available to watch through a certain streaming sports service. Shame on them and the NHL for keeping the most exciting game of the season from being viewed by a good portion of Sabres fans outside of Western New York.