After big win at Chicago, Oilers head to Buffalo
Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 12:47 AMOILERS (16-19-3) at SABRES (17-17-4)
: SNET-EDM, MSG-B
: Edmonton 3-7-0; Buffalo 2-6-2.
: This is the only meeting of the season between these inter-conference opponents. When the teams last met on Dec. 28, 2010, Buffalo topped Edmonton in Rexall Place behind two goals from defenseman Mike Weber
: Edmonton enters Buffalo looking to build on some rare momentum after a 4-3 victory against the Western-leading Chicago Blackhawks. However, they'll likely be without rookie center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
, who suffered a shoulder injury in the opening period and did not return.
"I don't know exactly what happened, or if there was a sniper in the press box, because he just fell down," Oilers coach Tom Renney said. "That happens, but in talking to him, he thought he caught an edge."
: With a win in Chicago, Edmonton has salvaged something from their current season-long, seven-game road trip. Coming into Monday, the Oilers had lost three straight – to Vancouver, Minnesota and the New York Islanders – but got 39 saves from usual backup Devan Dubnyk
to kick off the calendar year in a positive way. Edmonton received balanced scoring – the Oilers got goals from four different players – and were able to hold off a late Chicago comeback.
"It means a lot, but it doesn't mean anything if you don't build on it and make something happen (Tuesday) night in Buffalo," Renney said. "The only way we were going to beat them is by playing together and sticking to a gameplan -- and we did that. Special teams again were outstanding, as they have been pretty much all year. Goaltending was solid. The guys just really stuck with it."
: Coming off a two-game road losing skid in Washington and New Jersey, Buffalo returned home on New Year's Eve to face Ottawa. The Senators ruined the homecoming, though, skating off with a 3-2 shootout win despite never leading until the shootout winner.
Even though he saved 44 of 46 shots, Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth
fell to 0-4-1 over his last five. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff commented on his team's lack of luck since Christmas, the biggest indictment coming when Daniel Alfredsson trickled a shot through Enroth's legs to keep the Sens alive in the third round of the shootout.
"Somehow, the hockey gods gave that one a little extra push and it went in," Ruff said of Alfredsson's goal. "The battle was there, and the drive was there. We just gotta keep trying to grind it out."
: Edmonton's Jordan Eberle
recorded two assists in the win over Chicago. Eberle still has 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) over his last seven games.
: Besides Nugent-Hopkins, defenseman Tom Gilbert
left Monday's game against the Blackhawks with a lower-body injury and did not return. Defenseman Ryan Whitney
(right ankle) did not play. Alex Plante
(facial lacerations), Cam Barker
(left ankle surgery), and Taylor Fedun
(broken right femur) are all on injured reserve. … For Buffalo, Christian Ehrhoff
(upper body), Andrej Sekera
(upper body), Colin Stuart
(lower body), Tyler Ennis
(left ankle), Ville Leino
(lower body), Corey Tropp
(upper body) and Tyler Myers
(broken wrist) will all miss significant time.
: Two teams in the bottom third in wins are surprisingly strong on special teams. Buffalo is ninth in both power play (19 percent) and penalty kill (82.5 percent), while Edmonton is second in man-advantage efficiency (20.8 percent) and 11th on the penalty kill (84.1 percent). Whichever team stays out of the box may have the advantage.
: "Wins often do come with a price. The guys that are healthy are the guys that will work to make the difference for us moving forward, and we'll assess where we are with the injured fellas and move on." -- Oilers coach Tom Renney after Monday's 4-3 win at Chicago