Riley Sheahan scores his first goal of the season and first as a member of the Oilers in a 3-2 overtime defeat on Sunday to the Buffalo Sabres
EDMONTON, AB - The blades of the Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres duelled for 60 minutes before meeting at the end in a stalemate.
Overtime was the only answer, and it was Colin Miller's final blow in the extra frame that sealed the extra point for the visiting Sabres and consigned the Oilers to a 3-2 defeat on Sunday at Rogers Place.
The Oilers finish a four-game homestand on Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes. The game can be seen on Sportsnet West and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. Puck drop is 7:08 p.m. MT.
Riley Sheahan scored his first of the season and first in an Oilers uniform, with Joakim Nygard providing the assist and the tying goal in the second period that broke a streak of 13 games without a goal for the Speedy Swede.
"To see us come back tonight was nice, but our starts just have to be better," Sheahan said post-game. "We have to be excited to play in our own building. I think we should never have a bad start here."
The Sabres had the high ground through 20 minutes from a Kyle Okposo deflection and Johan Larsson's crease-front open look soon after, but Sheahan's two dangerous shorthanded chances had the centre looking like he'd lead the breakthrough in the middle frame.
Sheahan accepted a stretch pass from Joakim Nygard at 8:25 of the second and tucked home a breakaway through the legs of Buffalo netminder Linus Ullmark before Nygard levelled the scoreline at 2-2 heading into what would be a scoreless final frame.
The Oilers rued their early deficit when Miller took Marcus Johansson's cross-ice feed and slid it under the outstretched pad of Mike Smith 1:13 into sudden death.
"It comes from our start," defenceman Darnell Nurse, who tallied two assists, said. "We give them two goals and have to play catch-up from there. Our starts have to be better, and we left one point on the table that we shouldn't have."
Mike Smith made 19 saves on 22 shots in defeat, falling to 7-7-2 in 16 appearances this season.
After grinding out a 2-1 victory last time out against the Los Angeles Kings, the Oilers hopes for starting a streak were vocalized by defenceman Oscar Klefbom in his morning media avail.
The hope was dashed by the blade, as the Oilers fell to 18-10-4 on the season and 1-1-1 on their four-game homestand with the defeat.
"It's tough to say what's wrong," Klefbom said. "Obviously we tried to get a winning streak going here, but it's not going to happen if we're not ready from the start."
"I think we did a pretty good job coming back to give ourselves a fair chance, but we have to be better. We should be in the front seat in a game like this and outwork these guys."
A theme of overpassing was present in the night's game script for the Oilers and their post-game comments, with Head Coach Dave Tippett labelling Nygard's equalizing goal and second marker of the season in the byproduct of more pucks to the net.
"As the game got on, we started to play a little better and play the right way," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We started putting some pucks at the net and we got rewarded for it, but we didn't start with the right mindset and it cost us a point."
An over-generosity with the puck from the top line of Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, and Zack Kassian - reunited for the first time in three games with Kassian's return from a back injury - led the trio to playing one pass too many on a chance in and around the Sabres goal in the first period that led to the visitors' doubling their lead at the other end on the ensuing rush.
"In the second period, we went out with the mindset to shoot the puck even though there was two or three times we still didn't," Tippett said. "We had more drop passes than we had shots on net I think in the first period. That's not right."
The Sabres came in on the second game of a back-to-back after losing 6-5 last night in overtime to the Calgary Flames, and win only their second road game in their last 10 contests.
"That has nothing to do with the game or what goes on on the ice. They just outplayed us in the first," Nurse said.
The Oilers conclude their homestand when the Carolina Hurricanes visit Rogers Place on Tuesday.