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Sabres Notebook: With game out of reach, Bylsma sat Eichel's line

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- What was Dan Bylsma thinking when he sat Jack Eichel's line for the final five minutes Tuesday night in San Jose? Quite simply, nothing more than time and score as well as upcoming schedule.

Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Matt Moulson were on the ice for the final three goals of Buffalo's 4-1 loss to the Sharks in SAP Center. Eichel accidentally put the puck past Robin Lehner for the go-ahead goal in the final minute of the second period and made a turnover that led to the Sharks' third goal. Reinhart and Cody Franson combined to drop coverage on Joe Pavelski on that play.

Eichel, who scored his 20th goal of the season just 70 seconds into the game, played a career-low 14:06 in the game. Reinhart played 14:35, one of his lower totals of the season.

Following practice Wednesday in the Kings' suburban facility, Bylsma said there was no message being sent to anyone on the line.

"The second goal in the game that goes off Jack is a fluke," Bylsma said. "It's a one-in-a-million situation that happens and finds its way in the back of the net. But at the 4-1 point, it was more things weren't going that line's way and we're playing a lot of hockey here in the next little bit. It was 4-1 and they didn't get back on the ice."

Bylsma said he's looking for big things from Eichel in Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Kings and again Friday in Anaheim against the Ducks. He said he liked how Eichel went hard to the net on a couple of possessions in the third period in the wake of his faux pas off a Cody Franson pass that gave the Sharks the lead.

"One thing Jack has done really well is respond in the game to different situations," Bylsma said. "Whether it's a mistake or turnover or a power play that hasn't gone well, I think he's done a remarkable job lately playing that way. The last stretch of games, he's been the guy with the go-after it attitude and the keep-playing attitude. That's what I've liked about Jack the last 10 games."


The Sabres may have double Justin trouble for Thursday's game.

Defenseman Justin Falk (calf) has been ruled out of both remaining games this week and winger Justin Bailey (foot) is questionable after both were struck by shots. Bailey was dinged Tuesday while Falk has been playing with the injuries for the last couple of games. Neither practiced Wednesday.

The Sabres are expected to call up Taylor Fedun from Rochester to replace Falk, provided he can get a flight west in time out of the Rochester snow. The Amerks' game with Binghamton Wednesday night in Blue Cross Arena was postponed due to the weather and will be made up April 5.

Bylsma added there's a good chance Hudson Fasching will draw into the lineup Thursday, either to replace Bailey or in another spot. Fasching has not played an NHL game since Oct. 30 in Winnipeg and missed nearly three months with a severe groin injury.

"It will be an opportunity for him very similar to last year when he played seven games to show what he can do," Bylsma said. "He's a big guy physical along the wall. That's what we need to see him do."


Eichel's own-goal Tuesday came when he failed to corral Franson's backhand pass to the front of the net to set up a breakout. The puck hit Eichel in the right skate and went through Robin Lehner's legs.

"It's obviously not something that's normal. It stinks," Eichel said after the game of the goal credited to San Jose's Michael Haley.

"It's just a real tough bounce," Eichel said. "'Franny' is making a good play to me in front of the net, we're trying to break the puck out and I end up hitting my back skate and it goes through Lenny's legs. ... I went to pull it from behind me to in front of me and I hit it off my own skate."

Franson said he and Eichel have worked on the play in practice and replays showed Eichel calling for the puck.

"I didn't think Haley was in position to do much," Franson said. "''Eichs' was right in that area and it's unfortunate. Eichs makes that play 99 times out of 100. The ice was pretty soft, the puck was bouncing around and those are ones you just chalk up to bad luck."


The Sabres have lost three straight games in Staples Center to the Kings -- and all of them have been by 2-0 scores. Their last goal at Staples was scored by former captain Craig Rivet at 1:07 of the third period in a 4-3 shootout loss on Jan. 21, 2010. So the current scoreless streak in the building for Buffalo is 203 minutes, 53 seconds.

Los Angeles entered play Wednesday four points behind St. Louis for the final wild-card slot in the West, pending the Blues' game later Wednesday in Anaheim.

The Kings will be playing the final game of a seven-game homestand and are currently 3-2-1 in the first six. They're coming off a 3-2 loss Tuesday to Arizona -- in a game that stretched to 11 rounds of a shootout.

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