NEW YORK – Ryan O'Reilly didn't have the words to describe the birth of his first child. He didn't need any.
The glow and smile said everything.
"There's nothing like it," O'Reilly said Wednesday, four days after welcoming Jameson Keane O'Reilly to the world. "Seeing him born, I was bawling my eyes out watching this little person come to life and just seeing a little piece of us.
"You can't explain it. It's one of the most incredible feelings there is."
O'Reilly's smile was huge in Barclays Center as he talked about the arrival of his son. Previously, good feelings had been minimal for the Buffalo Sabres center. Neither he nor the team had fulfilled his expectations heading into Wednesday's game against the New York Islanders. The Sabres were 9-20-7, and O'Reilly had nine goals and 23 points in 35 games.
The arrival of Jameson clearly lifted O'Reilly's spirits, and it could do the same for his game.
"It's great for him," coach Phil Housley said, "especially being there for your first child being born – any child, for that matter – but your first one is something you'll never forget.
"He seems like a new kid out there. It's great to see him having fun."
O'Reilly typically carries the weight of the team on his shoulders. He took a brief skate on his own Tuesday, and he's already learned there is a balance to life and hockey.
"It's definitely different when you've got a little baby at home," O'Reilly said. "You get in, you do what you have to do, and then you get out of there. It's going to change that a lot."
O'Reilly flew back to Buffalo prior to Saturday's loss in Carolina. He joined fiancée Dayna Douros with two hours to spare.
"I was glad I got to be there and share that experience with her family," O'Reilly said. "Again, words can't describe it. It was just something that is life-changing."
The boy was due to be born this Friday, and the early arrival allowed the growing family to be together during the three-day Christmas break.
"That made it a lot easier, for sure, knowing that we had a few days to be able to be there, get home and get settled in," O'Reilly said. "It made it nice to really get to know the little baby. It was an incredible Christmas, obviously the best one I've ever had."
It was certainly better than last year. O'Reilly was hospitalized for an emergency appendectomy. That was nothing compared to childbirth.
"I've got to give credit to Dayna," the center said. "She's one of the toughest people I know for her to be able to do that. I don't think I can complain about a thing ever again."
The game against the Islanders was the 942nd of Jason Pominville's career. It came on the 14th anniversary of his first.
Pominville made his NHL debut Dec 27, 2003, in a 3-1 victory at Washington. He had three shots in 14:22 of ice time. Pominville got the call – his only one of the season – with Chris Drury and J.P. Dumont out with injuries.
Pominville's most vivid memory is the veteran lineup possessed by the Capitals. They boasted Jaromir Jagr, Robert Lang, Mike Grier, Peter Bondra and Olaf Kolzig.
"It was a fun game," Pominville said. "My parents weren't able to make it to that one, but I remember them saying everyone got together and watched it. … Time moves fast."
Housley reiterated his disappointment with the Sabres' lackadaisical showing in Carolina. After the game, he told the players to enjoy the holiday break but keep hockey in mind.
"I said to have a good Christmas but make sure you do something during the three days so we can get right back after it," Housley said. "We just have to be ready to play."