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Oilers defeat Sabres for first road victory

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- It took nearly a month, but the Edmonton Oilers got their first win on the road.

Boyd Gordon scored with 4:15 remaining to give the Oilers a 3-2 victory against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on Friday.

Gordon took a pass from Teddy Purcell and beat Sabres goalie Michal Neuvirth as he fell to the ice for his second goal of the season. Purcell was free to gain the zone after a pass from Matt Hendricks. The Sabres' defense flowed to Purcell and left Gordon alone to the right of Neuvirth.

"He just quietly goes about his business," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said of Gordon. "We made a slight adjustment to the line there and they ended up getting us the goal. I can't say enough about Boyd. He does a lot of heavy lifting, dirty, dirty work and is happy to do it."

It was the Oilers' first victory away from Rexall Place in six games this season (1-4-1), and the first in three games of a five-game trip that continues Sunday at the New York Rangers.

"For me it's important for our dressing room," Eakins said. "We fully understand critics and we fully understand and I embrace the result. You can stand and talk about how well you're playing and how you've improved, but if you're not getting points, no one's going to listen. For me, the points are always for those guys in the room. They understand what process we're going through, they understand where we're at and where we're going, and that's our main concern right now."

The Oilers ended a four-game losing streak.

"The League is all about consistency," Edmonton forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. "[Over] 82 games, you've got to find a way to be consistent. We're not going to have 82 great games, but you've got to find a way to battle even when you're down a goal. You've got to find a way to score, and in the past couple years I know we've been a little inconsistent. We've got to find a way to be better this year and I think that's when we'll take that next step forward."

The Oilers scored two goals after forward Drew Stafford gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead 6:34 into the third period with his third goal of the season.

Stafford carried into the Oilers zone, made a move to get around defenseman Martin Marincin and snapped a wrist shot over the right shoulder of goalie Viktor Fasth. The goal was Stafford's first at even strength this season.

"Just getting the puck like that in the neutral zone with speed, anytime I get that type of opportunity, as any player will tell you, it's a Grade-A opportunity to get some speed behind the puck," Stafford said.

The Oilers outshot the Sabres 19-11 in the third period and 52-31 for the game.

"When you don't want to compete and you don't want to fight for the puck, that's what's going to happen," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "We went through this same song a number of times. The worst thing about it, we had a 2-1 lead. We made the biggest mistakes to give them the two goals to go ahead."

Oilers forward Mark Arcobello tied it 2-2 with his third goal of the season. Arcobello scored his second goal in as many games when he snapped a shot over the glove hand of Neuvirth at 11:42.

"We had a good third, and we were able to respond after their second goal to give a good push back and get the win," Arcobello said.

Arcobello was set up when he grabbed a loose puck from David Perron and fought off Sabres defenseman Andre Benoit in the slot.

"We couldn't put two passes together," Nolan said. "We'd get it up to the wingers, the wingers couldn't do anything on the boards. Too much pressure for them. There was no support. So it started from the first period. We never adjusted."

Forward Matt Moulson gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead 26 seconds into the second period. Brian Gionta hit Moulson with a pass from behind the net, and Moulson snapped a shot past Fasth for his first goal of the season.

"It was a great play by [Gionta]," Moulson said. "[Gionta] made a great pass and luckily I just kind of shoveled it to the net and it went in. The main thing is we've got to get wins here and maybe that'll help jump start our line."

The Oilers tied the game 54 seconds later when rookie forward Iiro Pakarinen scored his first NHL goal in his second game. Pakarinen fired the rebound of Mark Fayne's shot from the point past Neuvirth.

"I was a little bit shocked," Pakarinen said. "It was so fast of a situation. I jumped on the ice and the rebound was there and I tried to shoot as hard as I can."

The Oilers had 85 shot attempts to 51 for the Sabres. Neuvirth made 49 saves; Fasth stopped 29 shots.

"Fifty-two, that's crazy," Neuvirth said. "We got outworked, and they wanted to win more than us. Good for them, but we got to wake up. This can't be happening, especially on home ice."

The Sabres host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

Buffalo forward Tyler Ennis was assessed a game misconduct at the final buzzer when he appeared to make contact with linesman Derek Nansen with his stick.

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