Buffalo Sabres star Jack Eichel bookended the 2010s for his club with an outstanding short-handed goal on New Year’s Eve.
Midway through the Sabres’ game Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Eichel pounced on an opportunity to score when Tampa Bay’s Yanni Gourde slipped while handling the puck in Buffalo’s defensive zone during a Lightning power play.
Eichel immediately picked up the puck and raced toward the Lightning net, looking to fire a cross-ice pass to teammate Curtis Lazar. When Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson cut off Eichel’s passing option, the forward took it to the net himself.
The impressive move fooled defender Kevin Shattenkirk and caught goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy off-center to the puck, and his desperate lunge could not stop the Sabres’ captain from increasing Buffalo’s lead to 4-1.
Shattenkirk and the Lightning got the last laugh, though: the blueliner Eichel deked scored the game-tying goal in the third period, and Tampa Bay earned its fourth consecutive win with five unanswered tallies in the second half of the contest.
Eichel, 23, finished his team’s fourth consecutive loss with the lone goal. His 53 points rank seventh among all NHL skaters, and his 25 goals place him behind only division rivals David Pastrnak and Auston Matthews for the league lead.