5 Takeaways in Sabres thrilling OT victory against the Flyers

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

What a thrilling game for the Buffalo Sabres. It had everything. Incredible saves, big time goals, and of course for Buffalo.....controversy.

The Sabres defeated the Flyers in Philadelphia Tuesday night 4-3 in overtime after Buffalo blew a 3-2 lead with 53 seconds to go. Chad Johnson made a diving, Hasek like save in the 3 on 3 overtime when he dove across the crease to make a blocker save. After the save Girgensons broke free on a breakaway and buried it five hole on Flyers goalie Steve Mason. The Sabres improve to 3-6 on the season with two wins in overtime. Here are five takeaways from the nerve racking thriller at Wells Fargo Center.

1. Jack Eichel overcame second period turnovers and was key to the Sabres taking a 3-2 lead- Eichel was having his worst game as a pro after a number of careless giveaways in the defensive zone.

Eichel showed why he was the second overall pick and bounced back in the third period with a tremendous screen on Steve Mason that allowed defenseman Jake McCabe to bury the leading goal for Buffalo. It was great to see the rookie overcome adversity. Not every game is going to be a cake walk.

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2. The Sabres offense is light years better than last season- Buffalo finished the night with 40 shots on goal. To quote Buffalo News's John Vogl, the Sabres took 3 or 4 games last season to get to 40 shots. Ennis and O'Reilly were huge in this aspect. The Flyers couldn't take the puck away.

Love how the defenseman throw the puck on the net without hesitation. It allowed forwards up in front to make it difficult for Mason to see the puck. Sam Reinhart and Jamie Mcginn were especially good in this area. Reinhart has been a force all season when it comes to playing in front of the net.

Impressed by Johan Larsson as well. The Sabres outshot the Flyers 23-9 when the Swedish forward was on the ice. His intelligence and accuracy has been tremendous for Buffalo this year. He is good in both ends of the ice. Great puck skills that allow Larsson to consistently steal pucks in the defensive zone, and make plays on offense. 2 assists for Larsson tonight earned him more time with Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel. Hopefully the young trio can gain some good chemistry while Evander Kane is sidelined.

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3. Chad Johnson proved critics wrong tonight- What a performance from Chad Johnson. 30 saves on 33 shots and huge game changing save in overtime. Johnson was left for dead after giving up 7 goals against Montreal last Friday night. Writers including myself believed Johnson could not take over a game. That was wrong. A few of the goals were on Johnson but the tying goal for Philadelphia was a result of three Flyers forwards crowding Johnson's view. Buffalo's defense should have done a better job of clearing the shot path for Johnson. Johnson finished with a .909 save percentage. Not bad.

It is nice to know that although Chad Johnson isn't an all star goalie, he can help the Sabres win if the offense and defense play like they have all season. He is making Murray sit on his hands when it comes to making a move for another goalie.

Johnson made a lot of athletic saves, he controlled rebounds far better than he has all season and showed calmness and poise in the net. Incredible performance.

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4. Jake McCabe had no business being in Rochester this season- Remember when it was smart to develop McCabe in Rochester? He clearly doesn't need any more development. McCabe scored his second goal and third point in his 16th career NHL game. He was physical, smart with the puck, and a threat in the offensive zone. The Sabres desperately needed an offensive spark on defense this season. McCabe has filled that responsibility admirably. The former Wisconsin star was third in ice time playing 20:43 minutes tonight.

McCabe has also been solid in his own zone. He is physical and plays the puck safe. Not a lot of turnovers on the Pysyk-McCabe pairing.

Not to brag but I said McCabe should be a top 4 defenseman in June. Crazy at the time but just because a Matt Donovan or Carlo Colaiacovo are veterans, that doesn't mean they perform better on the ice. Nobody has been better on defense than the three youngsters. McCabe, Ristolainen, and Pysyk have been fantastic.

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5. Hard word finally pays off for Zemgus Girgensons- Anyone disagree that Girgensons should have 10 points this season. The Latvian star has been all over the ice this season and has generated more chances than anybody on Buffalo. Girgensons had the game winner in overtime after a breakaway that led to #28 beating Steve Mason five hole to clinch the win. The speed and effort Girgensons uses in every stride is inspiring. He finished with a team high 5 shots on goal.

Zemgus Girgensons will continue to be a cornerstone piece in the Sabres #NextChapter.

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The Buffalo Sabres are now 3-6 on the season. Things are looking up for a team that is a thousand times better than last year's "Tank" team. One of the top NHL teams in shots for and a power play nightmare for any team has this Sabres team opening some eyes around the NHL.

Thanks for stopping in.

Twitter- @DiBisportstalk

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