Buffalo Sabres forward Sam Reinhart has erupted for five goals in four games, marking the first four-game goal-scoring streak of his career.
But the Sabres have lost all four games after winning 10 in a row, and it’s difficult to enjoy individual success in defeat.
“It doesn’t make it easier on a night like tonight,” Reinhart said. “You saw when we were on the streak there it really didn’t matter. It’s fun to win. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t find a way tonight.”
Reinhart found the back of the net once again in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night at KeyBank Center, deflecting a wrist shot from defenseman Nathan Beaulieu past Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen to tie the score 1-1 with 5:59 remaining in the second period.
Reinhart also had an assist on Jack Eichel’s second goal of the game with 7:03 remaining in the third period, giving the Sabres a 3-2 lead and recording his eighth multi-point game of the season. But Patrick Marleau tied the score at 3 two minutes later and Auston Matthews scored the game-winner, his second goal of the night, with 2.7 seconds remaining in overtime.
Reinhart has eight points in the last five games (five goals, three assists). He has 18 points in his last 16 games (seven goals, 11 assists), including seven two-point efforts.
“I think he’s just playing his game,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said. “He’s making plays down low and tight and he’s finding ways to get pucks to the net. He goes to the net hard. That’s where he’s scoring most of his goals, five feet in, around the net, so it’s good to see him finally put the puck in the net. But his line mates have done a really good job. They’ve been very consistent for us.”
Reinhart is third on the Sabres with eight goals this season, trailing Jeff Skinner (20) and Jason Pominville (9).
He is second on the team with 16 assists, behind Eichel (27).
Last season, Reinhart managed just five goals before New Year’s Day, but played well once the calendar flipped to 2018, finishing the season with a career-high 25 goals and 50 points.
He scored 20 goals over the final 44 games of the season, tying Eichel for the team lead in goals and finishing third in points behind Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly, who was since traded to the St. Louis Blues.
The Sabres signed Reinhart, the second overall pick in the 2014 draft, to a two-year, $7.3 million contract in September. He was a restricted free agent.
Reinhart, 23, similarly got off to a slow start this season, scoring just three goals through his first 25 games before erupting over the last week.
He scored twice in a 5-4 loss at Tampa Bay on Nov. 29 and once in each of the last three games, a 3-2 loss at Florida on Nov. 30, a 2-1 loss at Nashville on Monday and against Toronto on Tuesday.
Reinhart also had an assist in a 3-2 overtime victory against San Jose on Nov. 27, giving him a point in five consecutive games.
“I think the opportunities were there at the start,” Reinhart said. “For whatever reason, the bounces weren’t coming. I think I’ve just been more relaxed, more confident in myself, and when a couple go in for you, it gets that much nicer.”