Chelmsford native Jack Eichel registers career-high 4 points in 1st NHL visit to TD Garden

Scott McLaughlin
December 26, 2015 - 6:21 pm
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[caption id="attachment_55159" align="alignright" width="400"] Jack Eichel had two goals and two assists in the Sabres' win over the Bruins on Saturday. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)[/caption] Jack Eichel couldn'€™t have asked for a better homecoming. Having a six-day break followed by a game in Boston meant the North Chelmsford native got to spend some time at home with friends and family for Christmas. That would'€™ve been pretty good in and of itself, but then Eichel capped it off with his best game as a pro. The former Boston University standout registered two goals and two assists in his first game at TD Garden as an NHLer, setting a career-high in points and snapping a seven-game goalless drought in the process. "It was nice to see some family and friends, just kind of unwind a little bit," Eichel said. "It'€™s been pretty busy for me the last few months, a little overwhelming at times, and just to go home and see the people that I'€™ve always been around -- my mom, my dad, my sister, you know my whole family. So it'€™s nice to spend some time at home and kind of mentally regain yourself." Eichel, the second overall pick in the 2015 draft, notched a secondary assist on the Sabres'€™ first goal of the game, but he wasn'€™t involved in too many other scoring chances and he was also on the ice for two Bruins goals as Boston built up a 3-1 lead. But then, in an act that had to look familiar to any local college hockey fans, Eichel came roaring to life in the third. Less than a minute after Ryan O'€™Reilly cut the Bruins'€™ lead to 3-2, Eichel tied the game when he held the puck in the right circle before centering a pass for Evander Kane that deflected off Kevan Miller and in. After Jamie McGinn gave the Sabres a 4-3 lead, Eichel sealed the win when he fired a shot from his own zone into an empty net. Then he set up a second empty-netter with some good hustle. Before getting the assist, he actually had a tough-angle attempt at a hat trick, but the shot hit the side of the net. "I was a little bit nervous jumping on the ice for warmups, but just an exciting game throughout," Eichel said. "Made some mistakes, but at the end of the day it'€™s a huge win and it'€™s a super nice way to start this next segment for us. You know, just exciting to get a win and do it in the fashion that we did in front of so many friends and family." The combination of the six-day break and a return home seemed to bring out the best in Eichel, a welcome sign in a season that Eichel admits has been '€œoverwhelming'€ at times. There have been some ups and downs, including the recent seven-game goalless stretch, but Eichel, who just turned 19 in October, now ranks fourth in rookie scoring with 20 points (11 goals, 9 assists) in 35 games and he leads all rookies with 108 shots on goal. "I think he'€™s gone through some ups and downs. We'€™ve seen him play some great games and we'€™ve seen some tough stretches," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "We'€™ve had this six-day break and I think we'€™ve seen him come back from that break energized and with a little more jump in his step. You know, he'€™s an excellent, dynamic player and that'€™s where he'€™s got to be night in and night out for us."

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