Jack Eichel tallied the game winner on a penalty shot in overtime, as the Oilers gained a point but dropped their first of a five-game road trip
BUFFALO, NY - It was a solid start to 2020 for the Oilers but not the outcome they were looking for as Jack Eichel scored on a penalty shot in overtime to lift Buffalo to a 3-2 win Thursday at KeyBank Center.
Edmonton gained a two-goal lead in the first period but Ralph Krueger's Sabres chipped away as the game continued, with Curtis Lazar getting Buffalo on the board in the 1st, Sam Reinhart tying the game in the 3rd and Eichel finishing it in the extra session.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Riley Sheahan notched for the Oilers and Mike Smith stopped 23 of 26 shots on the night as the Oilers record changed to 21-17-5.
"Nobody's happy when you lose," said Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett. "We got a point on the road but you come in here to win the game.
"You play a good first period, you expect to win the game."
The bench boss felt his club didn't raise their pace as the game persisted and pointed at the squad's net-front defence and giveaways as causes for the losing finish.
"The game went along and we didn't grab it," Tippett said. "Our coverage in front of the net, I think, was not adequate tonight and we turned a lot of pucks over."
Hailing from St. Catharines, ON, Sheahan entered Thursday's match with an extra incentive.
Given Buffalo's proximity to Ontario, the Sheahan clan found themselves sitting in the stands and were given a reason to jump up and stand when he opened the scoring at 5:06 by dumping in a rebound past goaltender Linus Ullmark.
Up 1-0 but looking for more offence, the Orange & Blue's new-look second line of Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto got to work.
The trio manifested a strong shift of forechecking and punctuated it with Nugent-Hopkins' ninth of the season. The goal gave RNH seven points in his last five games while Yamamoto and Draisaitl captured points in two straight with helpers.
But Buffalo didn't wilt down by a pair.
Former Edmonton Oil King Lazar got the home side on the board when Marcus Johansson's wraparound found his tape in front of Edmonton's crease. Lazar slid the puck 5-hole on Smith to cut the deficit in half.
In the third, Zach Bogosian's point shot caught a piece of Reinhart's stick, giving the forward his 100th career NHL goal while simultaneously giving the Sabres the equalizer.
"When we're in these pressure situations, we take our foot off the gas a little and be a little too tentative," Sheahan said post-game of the Oilers inability to maintain the lead.
"That's when you get caught thinking too much rather than moving our feet, getting into the plays and trying to make something of our own."