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MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers at Sabres

The Oilers five-game road trip continues with a game in Buffalo

by Marc Ciampa & Chris Wescott / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers continue their five-game road trip with a tilt against the Buffalo Sabres the day after Thanksgiving. 

You can watch tonight's game across Canada on Sportsnet West, Sportsnet Ontario and Sportsnet East or listen via 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.

Video: OILERS TODAY | @ Sabres Preview 

INSIDE THE OILERS

News and notes from Oilers practice earlier this week plus recent transactions, including Ryan Stanton returning to Bakersfield (AHL).

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

BUFFALO, NY -

The Oilers continue their five-game road trip tonight looking to build off a convincing 6-2 win in Detroit on Wednesday but they're going to have to do it with at least one and maybe two key players as illness continues to ravage the club. 

Oscar Klefbom did not take part in the morning skate due to illness and for the same reason, Laurent Brossoit gets his third start of the season in place of Cam Talbot who is also feeling the effects. 

"We'll start LB tonight and Klef will be a gametime decision," said Oilers head coach Todd McLellan. "When he gets here, we'll see how he's feeling but odds are against him playing right now."

Brossoit did well in his last start, which was a 2-1 shootout loss in Washington. He was asked about the reasons for his success in that game. 

"My preparation felt good. I felt ready when I stepped in there. That game, the boys were very structurally sound. It helped me a lot and helped me get into the game."

Buffalo comes into tonight's game with seven straight losses, but Brossoit said that can't be a consideration in his preparation for the game. 

"I don't take the opposing team as a consideration based on the fact I've just got to focus on what I'm going to do and that's what I'm going to do."

BUILDING OFF WEDNESDAY'S WIN

McLellan was asked about the reasons for success in Detroit. 

"I thought in Detroit we worked our butts off and that's an essential ingredient to having a chance at success and I thought our game management was much better than it's been on this road trip," he began. 

"It was important for a lot of reasons. Simple standings situation. You don't want to fall too far out. But more importantly, the character was questioned of the group and they responded with a good effort."

The Oilers bench boss added that the key is that the team needs to start winning multiple games to get back in the race and that starts tonight. 

"That has to be strung together. We've got to string a bunch of good games together. It started in Detroit, let's try and keep it going tonight."

HOUSLEY ON MCDAVID

Hockey Hall of Fame defenceman and Sabres head coach Phil Housley had some high praise for Oilers captain Connor McDavid when asked his pre-game media availability. 

"He's one of the best players in the world. He's extremely fast and you have to be aware when he's on the ice," he said. "He's got terrific speed so you're going to have stay above and can't give him the freedom to move around."

With a star of his own, Housley cautioned against teams -- whether the Oilers or the Sabres or anyone -- relying too much on their star player. 

"When you look at it, McDavid and Eichel are tremendous players and that's why they're going to get a lot of attention. They're only one piece of the puzzle," Housley stated. "It has to be a collective effort. I've never seen one player win a game for a hockey team."

PROJECTED ROSTER

A lot is up in the air for the Oilers on the blueline and very dependent on whether Oscar Klefbom draws in, but these are the projected lines for tonight if he doesn't play: 

Lucic - McDavid - Caggiula
Maroon - RNH - Draisaitl
Khaira - Strome - Puljujarvi
Cammalleri - Letestu - Kassian

Nurse - Larsson
Russell - Benning
Auvitu - Gryba

Brossoit

-- Marc Ciampa, EdmontonOilers.com

PREVIEW

OILERS (8-12-2) at SABRES (5-13-4)

TV: 5:00 p.m. MST; Televised on Sportsnet West, Sportsnet East and Sportsnet Ontario

Head-to-Head:

Tonight marks the first meeting between these two teams this season. The Oilers were swept in 2016-17 by Buffalo in both meetings.

Edmonton lost 6-2 at home on October 16, 2016 and lost 4-3 in overtime in Buffalo on December 6.

The Oilers are 39-22-10-2 against Buffalo all-time, and 5-4-1 in their last 10 games.

Oilers team scope:

Edmonton's road trip is finally on track after a 6-2 victory in Detroit on Wednesday. In that game, six different Oilers players scored, and the team got some much-needed bottom six offence.

Jujhar Khaira scored the game-winning goal at 10:24 of the second period. It was only his second goal of the season, both of them coming within a span of 10 days.

The win was a big one for the Oil, who had dropped their previous three. Buffalo is the second-to-last destination for the Oilers on this trip, as they finish it off on Sunday in Boston.

Connor McDavid remains unchallenged at the top of the Oilers scoring list with 28 points (10-18-28).

Sabres team scope:

The Sabres have just 14 points in the standings this season, and sit last in the Eastern Conference. They are currently on a seven-game losing streak that dates back to November 10.

The Sabres are led in scoring by Evander Kane, who has 21 points and 12 goals. The talented Jack Eichel sits second on the team in scoring with 18 points (6-12-18).

By the Numbers:

Khaira has four points (2-2-4) in his last five games. Mark Letestu scored against Detroit, in what was his 500th career NHL game. 14 different players found the score sheet in Detroit for Edmonton.

Injury Report:

OILERS - Andrej Sekera (knee) is on IR, Anton Slepyshev (groin) is on IR

SABRES - Z. Bogosian (lower body) is on IR, R. Ristolainen (upper body) is on IR, M. Tennyson (foot) is on IR, T. Fedun (lower body) is on IR

-- Chris Wescott, EdmontonOilers.com

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