The defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues' defense watched from in front of goalie Jake Allen as Jack Eichel handled the puck behind the net Tuesday night in KeyBank Center.
Eichel, the Buffalo Sabres' 23-year-old captain, proceeded to remind another opponent why he's regarded as one of the top players in the National Hockey League. He waited for his opportunity and skated to the front of the net, where his shot scored the go-ahead goal in the third period of a 5-2 win.
The Sabres (15-11-6) won consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 19-22 and have earned points in eight of their last 10 games. The Blues (18-8-6), meanwhile, had won 12 of their previous 14 games against Buffalo and were first in the Western Conference.
Eichel added his second goal and 20th of the season on an empty-netter with 1.2 seconds remaining. Sam Reinhart, Johan Larsson and Zemgus Girgensons also scored for the Sabres, who received 28 saves from Linus Ullmark. Troy Brouwer and Alex Pietrangelo scored for St. Louis.
18 seconds: That's all the Sabres needed to break the scoreless tie, as Victor Olofsson's shot-pass from the left-wing circle caromed off Reinhart's stick and into the net for a 1-0 Buffalo lead. That was the Sabres' fastest goal to start a game since Dec. 1, 2016, when Larsson also scored 18 seconds into a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers in KeyBank Center.
The goal was Reinhart's 12th of the season and third in four games. Olofsson has 18 points in his last 17 games.
Quick response: Brouwer tied the score, 1-1, at 3:37 into the first period, when he one-timed pass from Ivan Barbashev past Ullmark. Brouwer, who joined St. Louis on a professional tryout contract last month, had yet to score this season and was left wide-open in front of the net.
Fine first: The Sabres outshot the Blues, 11-9, in the first period and did not allow a shot on goal during a St. Louis power play. Buffalo, on the other hand, had two shots on the man advantage, both by Olofsson, and it had three more scoring chances, according to NaturalStatTrick.com. The Sabres were 5-4-1 when tied after one period.
Big saves: Ullmark stopped all 10 shots he faced during an impressive second period. His split save on Brayden Schenn's one-timer prevented the Blues from taking the lead. St. Louis also hit the post three times in the second but did not record a shot on goal for the final 7:02 of the period.
Rally: The Sabres' fortunes began to change when Marcus Johansson drew a penalty with 3:08 remaining in the second period. Up to that point in the period, the Sabres' forwards had not recorded a shot on goal and St. Louis controlled possession in Buffalo's end.
Though the Sabres' power-play slump moved to 4-for-56 since Nov. 1, they recorded three shots on goal to regain momentum.
Home bounce: The Sabres took a 2-1 lead with nine seconds remaining in the second period when Zach Bogosian's shot ricocheted off the end boards toward Larsson, whose shot went off Allen's leg pad and into the net. Buffalo was 12-0 this season when leading after two periods.
The Sabres had the final six shots of the second period and both teams had 13 shot attempts at 5 on 5, despite Buffalo's slow start.
Mistake: Bogosian got caught pinching in the neutral zone, giving the Blues an odd-man rush that resulted in Pietrangelo's goal to tie the score, 2-2, at 3:52 into the third period.
Point streak: Eichel extended his point streak to 14 games by scoring the go-ahead goal with 14:14 remaining in the third period. The goal was Eichel's 19th in 32 games, only nine short of the career-high 28 he scored in 77 games last season.
Insurance: Girgensons scored on an empty net with 50 seconds left in regulation to push the Sabres' lead to two goals.
Lineup: Defenseman Marco Scandella and winger Conor Sheary were healthy scratches for the Sabres. Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (concussion), winger Tage Thompson (upper body) and forward Vladimir Sobotka (knee) remain out because of injury.
Next: The Sabres are scheduled to practice Wednesday in preparation for their game Thursday night against the Nashville Predators in KeyBank Center.