BUFFALO, NY - Following a team meeting at their hotel in Buffalo, the Oilers met with the media and talked about trying to find ways out of their current four-game slide.
“Bottom line is find a way to win,” said Jordan Eberle. “Lately we’ve been finding ways to lose. Whatever it was this last little bit here, we need to find a way to win.”
Last night in Boston, the Oilers had a 2-1 lead in the third period but saw it slip away as the Bruins scored four unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 victory.
“We had a couple opportunities in the third (last night) to jump on them, 3-1 and those are the moments when good teams and players jump on their opponents.”
Tonight, the Oilers play a team that only has three wins on the season in the Buffalo Sabres. But the Sabres have picked up points in three of their last four games including a hard-fought 2-1 shootout loss to Montreal in their most recent contest and a win over Detroit in the game before that.
“It’s the NHL. You’ve got to find ways to win hockey games. Any team can beat any team at any time. That’s the best part of this league, every team’s great," Eberle stated.
Benoit Pouliot added that he feels that if the team plays like it did against the Bruins and Flyers, they will come out on top against the 3-8-1 Sabres.
"If we play the way we did last night against Boston we’re going to have a lot of chances out there. If we bring the same intensity and will as we did yesterday, we’re going to be fine tonight for sure.”
TEAM STAYING POSITIVE
Keith Aulie had a strong game in his Oilers debut with a +1 rating and two shots on goal in 15:59 of icetime against the Bruins. As a fresh set of eyes on the team's current circumstance, he feels that everyone is staying positive.
“It’s those moments of adversity that you can really see what a team’s made of. I’ve been on teams before where guys hang their heads and get really frustrated. I didn’t see that last night. It’s just a tough moment. You’ve got to learn from those experiences and move on.”
Boyd Gordon said it's not a matter of staying positive so much as execution and special teams.
“If we start feeling sorry for ourselves, it makes things worse. We’ve got to go out and respond tonight,” he began. “We do need to be better. We need to be more consistent. You can’t have a good first, an average second and a good third or the other way around. The biggest thing is consistency. It’s a one-goal game most of the time.”
Gordon added that a key to coming out on top in the one-goal games is special teams, which he feels can be improved.
“Any time you lose that special teams battle, you’re in trouble. If you look a the numbers, our PK’s been average but once you get those power plays and you have a chance to make an impact in the game or put it away, you want to do that. I think it’s kind of been — PK and Power Play — hasn’t been there at the right time.”
Gordon scored his first goal of the season last night on the power play.
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins will meet with the media just prior to puck drop tonight so there are no official lineup updates to report. Both Viktor Fasth and Ben Scrivens skated at the First Niagara Center in the team's optional skate.
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (4-8-1) at SABRES (3-9-2)
TV: SNW, MSG-B, BELL TV
Season series: The Edmonton Oilers continue a five-game road trip with their only visit of the season to First Niagara Center. The Oilers and Buffalo Sabres split their two games in 2013-14, with the road team winning each time. The Sabres have won seven of their past eight games against the Oilers dating to Jan. 16, 2006.
Oilers team scope: Edmonton flew to Buffalo for the second half of a back-to-back set after losing for the 13th consecutive time to the Boston Bruins. The Oilers led 2-1 with less than nine minutes remaining Thursday, only to see the Bruins score three goals in a span of 2:34 on the way to a 5-2 victory. "We need to find a way to close games out," said Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivens, who stopped 27 shots. "We've got to find a way to do it. You can't take a step back. You can't be cautious. We're a much better team when we're going after the other team." The Oilers are 0-4-1 on the road this season, including 0-2-0 to start their five-game road trip. Victor Fasth, who played in a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, may get the start in goal after Scrivens played in Boston.
Sabres team scope: Buffalo spent much of its practice Thursday working on the power play, which is 2-for-46, an NHL-worst 4.4 percent, after 14 games. Coach Ted Nolan had his man-advantage units get back to the basics of getting pucks to the net and bodies in front of the goaltender. "Sometimes when you're pressing, you try to do too much," Nolan told the Sabres website. "You try to make those long passes, so one thing we tried to do [Thursday] is really simplify it and make those short passes." Jhonas Enroth will get the start against Edmonton after Michal Neuvirth played the past two games, beating the Detroit Red Wings in a shootout Sunday and losing to the Montreal Canadiens in a tiebreaker on Wednesday. Nolan said forward Marcus Foligno, who has missed the past two games with an undisclosed injury, will take the morning skate on Friday but is more likely to return Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.