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game recap

Ryan O'Reilly lifts Sabres to win

Center has two goals, two assists; Oilers forward Milan Lucic gets 400th NHL point

by Derek Van Diest / NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly said he regularly tries to score from center ice in practice, so he was not surprised when he did Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers.

O'Reilly scored two goals, including the game-winner from about 100 feet away in the second period, and had two assists to help the Sabres to a 6-2 victory at Rogers Place.

"I tried to put a little action on it, I guess," said O'Reilly, who had four points in a game for the first time in his NHL career. "I practice it all the time, and it's a tough play for a goalie. You see many times when you do it in practice, you never know what's going to happen. For me, it was just a lucky bounce and I'll take it."

Kyle Okposo had a goal and assist in his Sabres debut. He sat out their season opener, a 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, because of a knee injury. Brian Gionta scored two goals for Buffalo, and Matt Moulson had one. Goaltender Robin Lehner made 31 saves in his first win of the season.

Impressive Sabres debut for Kyle Okposo

"[O'Reilly] might not get as much recognition as he should, but he's such a heady player, he's such a smart player, you can see it when you play against him and just playing with him," Okposo said. "He makes so many little plays, never puts you in a bad spot, he's an easy guy to play with."

Benoit Pouliot and Milan Lucic scored for Edmonton, which lost for the first time in three games to start the season.

Video: BUF@EDM: Lucic buries his first goal with the Oilers

Oilers goalie Cam Talbot was pulled at 9:22 of the second period after allowing four goals on 15 shots, but he returned late in the period after backup Jonas Gustavsson left because of an apparent head injury. Talbot, who made 17 saves, allowed all six goals.

"We looked like the Bad News Bears," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "We had guys falling all over the place. We didn't execute. Our passing was poor. From the goaltender to the blue line to the forwards, nobody was ready to play."

Okposo gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead at 2:37 of the first period, and then O'Reilly made it 2-0 at 7:14 on the power play. Pouliot scored at 17:20 to cut the Sabres lead to 2-1, and Lucic tied it at 19:00 with his first goal with the Oilers, the 400th point of his NHL career.

Video: BUF@EDM: Okposo scores first goal as a Sabre

The Sabres scored three more goals after O'Reilly gave them the lead with his lucky bounce early in the second period.

Gionta scored at 9:22 of the second to make it 4-2, tipping a shot past Talbot, who was then pulled.

Video: BUF@EDM: Gionta tips in McCabe's shot to pad the lead

Talbot returned with 33.4 seconds remaining in the period when Gustavsson left the game. Gustavsson initially stayed in the game after he apparently was injured in a collision with defenseman Adam Larsson at 16:53.

Gionta scored his second goal 37 seconds into the third period to give Buffalo a 5-2 lead.

Video: BUF@EDM: Gionta tallies from the circle to net second

Moulson scored at 4:36 to put the Sabres up 6-2, snapping a shot over Talbot from the slot.

"We were much more consistent tonight. We just supported each other better and made plays," O'Reilly said. "That's the hockey we need to establish right away. It's a big road trip and it's nice to start off like that."

Video: BUF@EDM: Moulson pads lead with top-shelf snipe

 

Goal of the game

Working on their first power play, the Sabres moved the puck around the zone before Okposo threaded a pass from above the right faceoff circle to O'Reilly below the left dot for a shot that beat a sprawled Talbot for an early two-goal lead.

Video: BUF@EDM: O'Reilly lights lamp on Okposo's dish

 
Save of the game

Lehner robbed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of a redirect attempt from the top of the crease at 1:30 of the second period to keep it tied 2-2. Shortly after they killed off a penalty, the Oilers broke out on an odd-man rush. Nugent-Hopkins gained the Sabres zone and dropped the puck for Pouliot just inside the blue line. Pouliot made a cross-ice pass to Zack Kassian, who sent it to Nugent-Hopkins in front of the net for a tip on net, but Lehner kicked his right pad out to knock the puck away.

Video: BUF@EDM: Lehner kicks out left pad to make great stop

 
Unsung moment of the game

Defenseman Kris Russell kept the Oilers within two goals when he broke up an Okposo pass through the crease to prevent Reinhart from tipping the puck into an empty net with 5:27 to go in the second period.

 
Highlight of the game

O'Reilly flipped the puck on net from about 10 feet behind the red line, and it bounced past Talbot at 3:53 of the second period to give the Sabres a 3-2 lead.

"It took a couple of tough bounces coming right down the gut," Talbot said. "The first one bounced at the hash marks to my right, so I kind of did a little push over. Then it hit the ice and bounced right back again to my left. No excuses. You have to stop a bouncing shot from the red line."

Video: BUF@EDM: O'Reilly nets second goal on odd dump-in

 
They said it

"It's nice to get one early like that. It was a great play all around by my two linemates. All I did was put it in the empty cage." -- Sabres forward Kyle Okposo on his first goal with Buffalo

 

"I thought we came out hard and strong and played the game the way we needed to play, which is in the offensive zone, and it led to a number of our goals." -- Sabres coach Dan Bylsma

 

"He took three penalties in a 15-minute span in Calgary and he took two tonight in about a 12-minute span. If I'm a penalty-killer, I don't want to be out there blocking shots all the time for him for stupid penalties. So he can sit and watch, plain and simple. We have some foundational, or fabric, things we need to continue to fix as an organization, and stupidity is one of them." -- Oilers coach Todd McLellan on Benoit Pouliot's penalties

 

Need to know

Pouliot has been assessed six minor penalties in the first three games. Despite scoring his first goal of the season in the first period, he was benched in the second after being called for high sticking and tripping in the first. Pouliot played 4:34, the least ice time on Edmonton.

Video: BUF@EDM: Pouliot crashes the net, tallies on rebound

 
What's next

Sabres: At the Calgary Flames on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; SNF, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Oilers: Home against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; SNOL, FS-CR, NHL.TV)

 

Video: O'Reilly enjoys four-point night in 6-2 victory

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