The first countdown came in jest.
"Zero ... we want one!" yelled a lone Sabres fan.
Not long after, plenty more shouted, "We want five!"
Buffalo's offense exploded in a hurry Tuesday night in KeyBank Center. The Sabres scored four times in the second period to beat Los Angeles, 6-3. Buffalo improved to 14-1-1 against the Kings in the last 16 home games.
Jack Eichel scored twice and had three points. Kyle Okposo (three assists) and Matt Moulson (two assists) had multipoint nights. Robin Lehner made 30 saves to move to 2-6-3 in his last 11 decisions.
Four-bagger: After doing little for 29 minutes, the Sabres took off midway through the second period. They scored four goals on five shots, turning a 2-0 hole into a 4-2 lead.
Getting it started: Ryan O’Reilly’s solo effort cut the Sabres’ deficit to 2-1 with 10:29 left in the second. He nearly did a complete 360-degree turn around the Kings’ net with the puck. He finished with a flourish, sending home a top-shelf backhand to end a five-game goal drought.
In a hurry: Eichel and captain Brian Gionta scored 12 seconds apart, getting the arena hopping and sending starting goalie Peter Budaj to the bench. Eichel was leaving the offensive zone and slipped a long, low shot toward the net on his way out. It slipped between Budaj and the post with 6:24 left.
Defenseman Justin Falk took a shot from a similar spot along the blue line, and Gionta reached out to redirect into the Kings’ net. It was his seventh goal of the year, with all coming at even-strength. Falk’s assist was his first point in 15 games with the Sabres.
One more: Eichel scored his second of the night with 4:16 left in the second. Unlike his first, no luck was involved. He carried from the boards to the slot, then ripped a shot off the post and in past Jeff Zatkoff. Budaj came back out for the third period.
Striking early: The Kings needed three minutes to take a 1-0 lead. Two of the best two-way centers in the NHL squared off, and Anze Kopitar got the best of O’Reilly. The Kings’ Kopitar blew past O’Reilly to go in alone on Lehner. The goalie stopped the shot but lost sight of the puck. As Lehner closed his pads, he inadvertently pushed the puck into the net.
The goal was the first in 17 games for Kopitar and just his third of the season. With his 246th goal, Kopitar tied Wayne Gretzky for sixth on the Kings’ all-time list.
Breakaway: Buffalo was applying pressure during a four-on-four, but it turned the other way in a hurry. Tyler Toffoli flipped the puck toward center ice, where Jeff Carter collected it and beat Lehner on a breakaway. The Kings took their 2-0 lead with 7:34 gone in the second.
Double boo: Fans jeered when the officials called the Sabres for icing. They booed loudly when Carter scored off the resulting faceoff, cutting the Kings' deficit to 4-3 with 15:57 to play.
Sealing it: After Okposo couldn't connect on an Eichel pass, the center tried Evander Kane. The left winger didn't miss, giving the Sabres a 5-3 lead with 4:18 left.
Sam Reinhart scored into an empty net with 25.9 seconds to play.
Quiet start: The Sabres entered the first intermission in a 1-0 hole. They have 18 goals in their 28 first periods, tied for 25th in the category. Los Angeles was tied for 29th.
Line swaps: Sabres coach Dan Bylsma followed through with the scoring lines he put together during practice. Eichel skated in the middle of Kane and Okposo. O’Reilly centered William Carrier and Reinhart.
Johan Larsson was between Marcus Foligno and Gionta. Zemgus Girgensons skated in the middle of Nicolas Deslauriers and Moulson. Derek Grant was the healthy scratch.
Defensive moves: The Sabres switched two of their three defensive pairs. Josh Gorges skated with Dmitry Kulikov, while Justin Falk was with Cody Franson. The top tandem of Jake McCabe and Rasmus Ristolainen remained intact.
Next: The Sabres will take Wednesday off before returning to practice Thursday. From there, it’s a busy run to the Christmas break. They host the New York Islanders on Friday and visit Carolina on Saturday. They’ll travel to face Florida on Tuesday, then close with back-to-back games. Buffalo will be home against the Hurricanes on Dec. 22 and on the road against the Islanders on Dec. 23.
“You need that mental break more than anything, just kind of get away from the game for a little bit and just kind of recharge,” Okposo said. “We’ve got a couple days, then we’re gearing up and going to the Christmas break pretty good.”