BUFFALO, N.Y. — Ryan O’Reilly got angry and the Buffalo Sabres‘ offence got rolling.
Jack Eichel scored two goals in a 2:08 span of the second period and assisted on another goal for the Sabres in a 6-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night.
But it was O’Reilly’s goal earlier in the second that sparked a flurry of four goals in a 6:13 stretch for the Sabres.
"He’s our leader," Eichel said. "He’s a huge player for our team. Steps up, makes a huge play, scores a beautiful goal and opens it up for us."
Buffalo trailed 2-0 when O’Reilly circled from behind the net and lifted a hard backhand shot from the slot over Peter Budaj’s glove at 9:31 of the second period.
"I was just getting frustrated," O’Reilly said. "The first (Kings) goal was clearly my fault, and being out there again, I got to create offence and not get scored on. . It’s nice to do something and to get back and provide a spark for the boys."
"You saw it really the whole shift," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "He was taking over and taking the game on his stick. He scored an outstanding goal for us and ignited the rest of the team. We kind of steamrolled from there."
Eichel scored his goals in the second and Brian Gionta also had a goal in the period.
Eichel set up Evander Kane for an insurance goal late in the third period and Sam Reinhart scored into an empty net in the final minute.
Kyle Okposo assisted on three of the Sabres’ goals, giving him 11 points in his last 10 games and a team-high 21 points this season. Okposo played after missing Monday’s practice due to illness.
Robin Lehner made 13 of his 30 saves in the third period and got the win for just the second time in his last 11 starts.
Jeff Carter scored twice and Anze Kopitar had the other goal for the Kings, who opened a seven-game trip.
Budaj made 18 saves. Jeff Zatokk replaced him for the final 6:12 of the second period and stopped two shots. Budaj returned for the third period.
"You have to get some saves," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "Got a lot of goals scored on us with very few shots against."
The Kings have lost three of four and are 4-8-1 on the road. They have lost eight straight in Buffalo since last winning here on Feb. 21, 2003.
"We’re a fragile team," Carter said. "We’ve been doing it all year. Home, away, everywhere. It’s time we take a big look in the mirror here because these next six games are pretty crucial."
The Sabres entered the night as the NHL’s lowest-scoring team with 56 goals through 27 games, but they scored four goals in a period for the first time since Dec. 26, 2015, turning a two-goal deficit into a two-goal lead.
Following O’Reilly’s seventh goal of the season, Eichel tied the game with 6:24 left in the period on a backhand pass from the blue line that slid by Budaj.
Gionta gave the Sabres the lead 12 seconds later when he deflected Brian Gorges’ wrist shot from the point, and Eichel scored his fifth goal in seven games on a wrist shot from the slot to make it 4-2 with 4:16 remaining.
Carter scored his team-leading 14th goal 4:03 into the third period and beat Lehner on a breakaway 7:34 into the second period to put the Kings ahead 2-0.
Kopitar gave the Kings the lead 3 minutes into the game when he muscled his way around O’Reilly and jammed the puck between Lehner’s pads. It was Kopitar’s first goal since Oct. 25 and his 246th with the Kings, tying him with Wayne Gretzky for sixth on the all-time list.
NOTES: Sabres D Zach Bogosian skated with the team on Tuesday for the first time since spraining his knee on Nov. 1. … Kings F Trevor Lewis earned his 100th NHL point with an assist on Kopitar’s goal. … The Kings lost for the first time this season when leading after the first period. They were 7-0-0.
Kings: At Detroit on Thursday.
Sabres: Host the Islanders on Friday.