The Jack Eichel effect is real. Ask the New York Rangers.
The Sabres star scored twice in the third period, allowing Buffalo to come back for a 4-3 victory Thursday night. The Rangers were 13-0-0 when leading after two periods, but the Eichel-led Sabres ended that streak.
Eichel scored the winner with 5:32 to go. It was further evidence things may be turning Buffalo's way. Eichel's pass to the front bounced off the Rangers' Mats Zuccarello and into the net. Eichel has three goals in his two games since returning from an ankle injury.
The Sabres improved to 4-1-1 in their last six games. They are 3-0-1 in the last four in KeyBank Center.
More power: The Sabres had to wait until the third period for their two power-play chances. Eichel drew both and made the Rangers pay on the second one.
Brandon Pirri hooked Eichel with 2:31 gone in the third, but New York killed it. Defenseman Adam Clendening tackled Eichel and picked up a holding penalty with 7:39 left. Eichel streaked down the right side of the zone and beat Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist with 7:14 to play, tying the game at 3-3.
Blooper reel: Lundqvist is a future Hockey Hall of Famer. They won’t show the opening 18 seconds at his induction. Jake McCabe sent a dump-in toward the New York zone from beyond center ice. Johan Larsson got a piece of it at the blue line, and the puck bounced off Lundqvist and into the net for a 1-0 Buffalo lead.
Get the point: The Rangers tied the game, 1-1, with 3:45 left in the first. With Marcus Foligno in the box for a debatable hooking penalty, New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh lofted a shot from the left point. It went past traffic and Sabres goalie Anders Nilsson.
The Sabres’ penalty killers have allowed at least one goal in six of the past eight games.
Fast and furious: The teams combined for three goals in 3:27 midway through the second period. The Rangers took a 2-1 lead, the Sabres quickly tied it, then New York went back up by a goal just as fast. The Rangers took their 3-2 lead into the second intermission.
Bounce: The Rangers’ Rick Nash made it 2-1 with 8:15 off the clock in the second. A deflected power-play shot bounced off Buffalo defenseman Josh Gorges and stopped in front, allowing Nash to slip the puck past Nilsson.
The secondary assist went to Wheatfield native Adam Clendening, who has three helpers in seven games on the New York blue line.
Hustle: With the Sabres applying pressure, Foligno sped behind the New York net for a loose puck. He quickly fed Brian Gionta at the top of the crease for an easy goal. The assist was the 100th point of Foligno’s career. Gionta has seven goals and 14 points in his last 15 games against the Rangers.
In front again: Rangers defenseman Marc Staal ripped a one-timer from the left circle to put the visitors back in front with 8:18 remaining in the second.
Backup plan: The Sabres recalled goalie Linus Ullmark from Rochester to serve as Nilsson’s backup. Robin Lehner, who injured his hip Tuesday in Ottawa, took part in the morning skate but watched the game from the stands.
“It feels 90 percent,” said Lehner, who expects to dress next game. “It’s a little stiff still, but it feels good.”
Jeering section: The fans booed every time Jimmy Vesey touched the puck. They booed a lot. Vesey, who elected not to sign with the Sabres during the summer, has fit into a top-six role with New York and skated with right wing Rick Nash and center Kevin Hayes.
Next: The Sabres will host the Boston Bruins at 1 p.m. Saturday. Eichel has two goals and four points in four games against his hometown team.