The mystery ended moments before puck drop Saturday in KeyBank Center when Jack Eichel was listed on the Buffalo Sabres' roster report for their game against the Los Angeles Kings.
That officially ended Eichel's one-game absence with a upper-body injury and gave the Sabres a much-needed boost after losing by five goals Thursday night in Philadelphia. Eichel, whose 17-game point streak ended because of the injury, proceeded to lead the Sabres to a 3-2 win over the Kings.
The Sabres (17-13-7) snapped a three-game losing streak and won their fifth consecutive game at home to keep pace in the Atlantic Division. Victor Olofsson scored an empty-net goal with 1:33 remaining for his 24th point in 22 games.
Rasmus Ristolainen and Marco Scandella scored for the Sabres, who received 25 saves from Linus Ullmark. Adrian Kempe had Los Angeles' first goal and Dustin Brown scored with 37.7 seconds remaining in regulation to cut the deficit to one goal. The Kings (15-19-4) were 4-0-2 in their previous six games.
Collision: Kings winger Trevor Lewis left for the trainers' room 1:31 into the first period when he collided with Sabres winger Rasmus Asplund. Lewis did not return to the game, leaving Los Angeles with 11 forwards.
Close call: During a 4 on 4 late in the first period, a broken play turned into a 3 on 1 for the Kings and center Michael Amadio hit the crossbar on a shot from the left-wing circle. Ullmark stopped all 10 shots he faced to keep the game scoreless in the first period. Entering Saturday, the Sabres were 6-4-1 when leading after the first period.
Help down the middle: Forward Evan Rodrigues returned to the Sabres lineup after a lower-body injury limited him to 11:52 in a 6-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. Coach Ralph Krueger opted to use seven defensemen and 11 forwards, with Zach Bogosian drawing into the lineup for the first time since he reportedly requested a trade.
Slow start: Krueger couldn't have been happy with a third consecutive slow start for the Sabres. They had only six shots on goal through 20 minutes and failed to generate any significant scoring chances against the Kings.
Opening salvo: The Kings took a 1-0 lead at 1:32 into the second period when the Sabres lost a battle for a loose puck in the corner and failed to cover Kempe, whose shot from the slot beat Ullmark.
Momentum swing: Buffalo began to control play shortly after Kempe's goal, and Sam Reinhart nearly tied the score with his shot on a scramble in front of the net. Marcus Johansson then missed a net during a 2 on 1 with Jeff Skinner.
Response: Ristolainen tied the score, 1-1, when he scored off Skinner's rebound at 7:35 into the second period. Ristolainen has a point in three of the past five games, and Skinner recorded a point for the first time in seven games.
Quick whistle: The Sabres had a potential goal wiped out in the second period because of a quick whistle on a shot on goal by Eichel. Reinhart appeared to score off the rebound with 3:55 remaining in the second period, but the officials ruled no goal on the ice and the call stood after a review.
Fine finish: Scandella gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead with 3:12 remaining in the second period on a shot from the point that went off Kings defenseman Drew Doughty and into the net.
Entering Saturday, the Sabres were 13-0 when leading after two periods, while the Kings were 0-16-1 when trailing after 40 minutes.
Closing out: The Sabres had four shot attempts, including Eichel's slap shot that hit the post, during a third-period power play that was cut short by Reinhart being penalized by interference. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick also stopped Reinhart on a shot off a Eichel drive to the net.
Scandella and Ullmark then teamed up to stop a Kings 2-on-1 rush with 4:16 left in the third period.
Scratches: Forward Conor Sheary and defenseman Colin Miller were healthy scratches for the Sabres. Sheary has two goals in his last 26 games, and Miller has been scratched three times in Buffalo's past four games.
Injuries: Forward Vladimir Sobotka (knee) remains out indefinitely, while center Johan Larsson (upper body) is expected to miss at least the next two games. Forward Tage Thompson is also on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.
Next: The Sabres are scheduled to practice Sunday in preparation for their road game Monday against the Ottawa Senators.