Washington’s Taylor Chorney (left) checks Jack Eichel on Tuesday. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres want Jack Eichel to shoot more

BUFFALO – Early in Tuesday’s 3-1 win, slick Sabres center Jack Eichel found himself with an odd two-on-one partner, fourth-liner Jordan Nolan.

Nolan, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, possesses some notable assets. Soft hands, however, aren’t among them. Nolan has scored 20 times in his 305-game career.

So Eichel shot the puck, right? Well, not exactly.

Instead of unleashing his lethal shot against the Washington Capitals, Eichel held the puck too long and eventually botched the odd-man rush.

After the game, Eichel, lamented his lost opportunities.

“I need to learn how to shoot the puck,” said Eichel, who had four shots in the tilt despite passing up other chances.

Eichel has said he possesses a pass-first mentality, so shooting can be a challenge for him, Sabres coach Phil Housley said.

“A lot of those two-on-ones he’s always looking to pass,” Housley said this afternoon inside KeyBank Center. “With his release and his shot, he should be looking to shoot more. Obviously, he can make plays through traffic. We’re not going to try to handcuff him or take anything away from his creativity.

“We realize with his shot and his release, it’s very deadly. He’s got to focus in. When he’s got some time to deliver it, he’s got to deliver it.”

Eichel has delivered 46 shots this season, 3.1 a game. He had a season-high seven in Saturday’s 5-1 loss in Dallas.

Still, Eichel hasn’t scored since Oct. 21, a six-game stretch.

Is Housley concerned Eichel’s frustrated?

“Not at all,” he said. “I think in frustration he’s trying to make the plays and we’re not finishing the plays.”

In other news, Housley said ace Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, out the last two games with an upper-body injury, is week-to-week.

Meanwhile, defensemen Nathan Beaulieu (upper body) and Josh Gorges (lower body) practiced again today inside HarborCenter and are “close,” Housley said.

The Sabres host Florida on Friday.

Update: The Sabres have sent defenseman Zach Redmond back to the Rochester Americans.

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