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Connor McDavid, Oilers look to stay undefeated

Edmonton has won each of first two games, hosts Kyle Okposo, Buffalo

by Derek Van Diest / NHL.com Correspondent

SABRES (0-1-0) at OILERS (2-0-0)

7 p.m. ET; SN1, NHLN, MSG-B, NHL.TV

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers look to start a season 3-0-0 for the first time since going 4-0-0 in 2008-09 when they host the Buffalo Sabres at Rogers Place on Sunday.

The Oilers won each game of a home-and-home series against the Calgary Flames to begin the season. Oilers captain Connor McDavid had three goals and three assists in the two wins. Edmonton defeated Calgary 7-4 on Wednesday in the first regular-season NHL game at Rogers Place and won 5-3 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday.

Buffalo lost 4-1 to the Montreal Canadiens in its season opener Thursday.

"I think we all addressed at the start of training camp that it was going to be important we get off to a good start," Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle said. "We have a fortunate schedule that we play a lot of home games early and that's got to start right now. Buffalo is a team that, obviously, we don't see that much in the season, but they have a good team over there, so we have to be ready to go and try to keep this thing rolling and get some confidence going."

The Sabres are without two of their top forwards. Center Jack Eichel sprained his left ankle during practice Wednesday and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. Forward Evander Kane broke multiple ribs crashing into the end boards against Montreal and is expected to be out for several weeks.

"Eichel and Kane are elite people, they're hard to replace," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "There aren't many Eichel's and Kane's playing in Rochester [American Hockey League] just as there weren't many McDavid's playing in Bakersfield last year. It does create opportunity for some players, but to replace the ingredients you lose is tough to do."

Forward Kyle Okposo will make his debut for the Sabres after missing the season opener with a sore knee after he was hit with a puck in practice. Okposo signed a seven-year $42 million contract on July 1.

"Kyle hasn't played and didn't skate for nine days," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "Now he's got four days of skating under his belt. But there is still a bit of a break-in period for Kyle as well."

Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov will also make his Sabres' debut Sunday after missing the opener because of a lower-body injury. Kulikov was acquired by Buffalo on June 25 from the Florida Panthers.

"There are a ton of areas where Dmitry can help us out," Bylsma said. "He's just getting his feet wet with our game and playing for our team. He can help us in penalty kill, he can help us in shutdown and he can, eventually, help us on the power play as well. We're going to have to break him in probably slower than I'd like to."

Buffalo begins a four-game road trip Sunday. They play the Flames on Tuesday, the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday and the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 25.

Edmonton plays four of its next five games at Rogers Place.

Sabres projected lineup

Sam Reinhart - Ryan O'Reilly - Kyle Okposo

Matt Moulson - Zemgus Girgensons - Hudson Fasching

Tyler Ennis - Derek Grant - Nicolas Deslauriers

Marcus Foligno - Johan Larsson - Brian Gionta

Josh Gorges - Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe - Zach Bogosian

Dmitry Kulikov - Cody Franson

Robin Lehner

Anders Nilsson

Scratched: Nicholas Baptiste, Casey Nelson

Injured: Jack Eichel (ankle), Evander Kane (ribs)

 

Oilers projected lineup

Milan Lucic - Connor McDavid - Jordan Eberle

Benoit Pouliot - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Zack Kassian

Patrick Maroon - Leon Draisaitl - Jesse Puljujarvi

Tyler Pitlick - Mark Letestu - Anton Lander

Oscar Klefbom - Adam Larsson

Andrej Sekera - Kris Russell

Darnell Nurse - Eric Gryba

Cam Talbot

Jonas Gustavsson

Scratched: Matthew Benning, Mark Fayne, Anton Slepyshev

Injured: Drake Caggiula (hip), Matt Hendricks (lower body), Iiro Pakarinen (knee), Brandon Davidson (upper body)

Status report

McDavid took a stick in the mouth Friday and left the game to get stiches but did return ... Pouliot and Nugent-Hopkins are the only Oilers forwards held pointless in the first two games.

Who's hot

McDavid has three goals and three assists in two games. ... Draisaitl has two goals and two assists in two games. ... Russell has three assists in two games.

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