PITTSBURGH – Jack Eichel, Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart all scored. In a show of camaraderie, Eichel and Kane dropped the gloves after seeing Reinhart get dropped on his keister. There was going to be a well-earned celebration for the Sabres' top line.
The good vibes disappeared when the victory did.
The trio hung out in Buffalo's dressing room after a 5-4 overtime loss to Pittsburgh. Instead of discussing the good things they did, Eichel, Reinhart and Kane talked about letting a victory slip away.
"The first two periods, I thought we tried to take it to them," Eichel said in PPG Paints Arena. "The third period, we sat back and let them take it to us. We played scared to lose and not to win."
Once again, they didn't win. Buffalo fell to 2-4-2 in the last eight and 5-9-4 overall. The latest setback came after the top line staked the Sabres to a 3-1 lead and helped the visitors take a 4-3 advantage into the third period.
"It's frustrating," Reinhart said. "We've got to do a better job. We earned that lead going into the third. There's a reason why we have it, and we're playing against probably the best team in the world the last few years. We played with the mindset that we're going to go take it to them, and we played with the lead.
"We get it and we sit back too much."
The Penguins tied the game with 6:11 to play and won it with just 16 seconds gone in overtime. Sidney Crosby spun away from Kane behind the net and found Conor Sheary, who was open at the side of the net with Eichel standing nearby.
"It was just a switch, and I didn't pick up Sheary quick enough," Eichel said. "That's on me."
The quick ending spoiled a lot:
* Buffalo scored two power-play goals.
* The penalty killers thwarted a five-on-three.
* The team scored four times after registering just one goal in three of the previous four.
* Robin Lehner made 40 saves, including numerous highlight-reel stops.
"We did a lot of good things," coach Phil Housley said. "The bottom line is we didn't win the game."
More than anything, the finish diminished the No. 1 line's show of force.
Pittsburgh Ian Cole delivered a crushing hit on Reinhart during the first period. Cole stepped into the winger as he crossed the middle of the ice, and he absolutely flattened Reinhart with a helmet- and bone-jarring blow.
Eichel immediately came from Cole's left. Kane came from his right. Both Sabres dropped their gloves simultaneously, and although Eichel tossed an overhand right, Kane beat him to the punch and got to Cole first.
Jack Eichel wastes no time dropping the gloves after his teammate Sam Reinhart gets dropped by a massive hit pic.twitter.com/O0nQOHv1U3
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) November 15, 2017
"That's this group in here, and that's the kind of guy he is," Reinhart said of Eichel. "He's done a really good job this year of coming in and being that guy. To see both linemates step in like that, that's huge."
Eichel and Kane earned roughing penalties, depriving Eichel of his inaugural NHL fight.
"It just seemed like a pretty hard hit," Eichel said. "Sam seemed pretty vulnerable. I think that's just part of hockey. You've got to step up and try and send a message that we're not going to let our guys get liberties taken on them.
"It's good to see. We've got to stick together. We're a group in here. We win and lose together. One of us goes down, people try and take runs at one of us, we're all there to back him up. You saw that on that play. Everyone was in there pretty quick.
"You obviously don't want to see that, especially when you're on the ice. That's one of the good buddies and linemates and teammates that you care about. He would do the same for me, and it goes through this locker room."
It was going to be the marquee moment of a night filled with good things. Instead, it's just something that happened in another loss.
"You get a lead and you're playing good, and we only get one point," Eichel said. "We've got to find ways to get two here. It's frustrating, and we'll work on it."