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Oilers downed by Sabres 3-1

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers
The Sabres generated several scoring chances right off the start as starting goaltender Jussi Markkanen had to be sharp early on. Daniel Paille had a partial breakaway and tried to go five hole but the Oilers goaltender turned it away. Jason Smith did a good job on the play of keeping him in his lane on the left side.

Buffalo seemed to carry most of the momentum early on but Jason Smith did a good job creating a turnover at the Edmonton blueline before dishing it to Ales Hemsky, sending him in on a two-on-one.

Hemsky blazed into the Buffalo zone before pinpointing a wrister top corner over Miller to make it a 1-0 game.

Early on a Sabres two-man advantage, Markkanen came up with some big saves down low off Chris Drury and Tim Connolly. The Oilers penalty killers took care of the rest of the penalty kill, limiting the league's second-best power play unit to just those two chances.

With eight minutes left in the opening period, Maxim Afinogenov created a turnover at the Edmonton blueline before breaking in on a two-on-one with Ales Kotalik. The two created a nice passing play in the slot but couldn't get a handle on the puck when it counted.

Sparks started to fly as the first period concluded with Jason Smith dropping the gloves with Buffalo's Jay McKee after McKee levelled Hemsky. During the altercation, Sabres defenceman Dmitri Kalinin intervened, resulting in a game misconduct. Smith took two extra minutes for instigating the fight.

On the ensuing power play, Tim Connolly split the defence and fired a shot low, beating Markkanen five hole. There was a delayed penalty to Shawn Horcoff on the play, putting the Sabres back on the power play. Oilers penalty killers did a good job killing that one off, however.

After one period, the game was tied 1-1 with Edmonton outshooting Buffalo 9-7.

During an Oilers man advantage early in the second period, Jarret Stoll teed one up that rang right off the mask of Ryan Miller, blowing it right off the Sabres goaltender's head.

On the next shift, Marc-Andre Bergeron was wide open at the side of the net and was set up for a one-timer but blasted it through the Buffalo crease.

Matt Greene electrified the crowd when he pasted Jiri Novotny to the ice on a solid body check. After the hit, Andrew Peters goaded Greene into a fight before turtling, putting the Sabres on the power play.

The Greene penalty was the first in a series of penalties that the Oilers had to kill off. Moreau was sent off for slashing and just as that penalty was about to expire, Smyth tripped up Derek Roy just as he was about to break in on a two-on-one.

Edmonton penalty killers did a good job holding off the barrage, however, which ended with a Thomas Vanek high sticking penalty. But just when it looked like the Oilers would get a power play of their own, Jarret Stoll was sent off for a double minor after high sticking Connolly.

With the teams now four-on-four, Ales Hemsky broke in alone on Miller. He attempted to deke out the Sabres goaltender but was denied despite pulling off some slick moves.

The power play would carry over to the third period. With no scoring in the second, it was still 1-1 with Edmonton holding a 19-15 edge in shots.

In the third, Buffalo moved ahead 2-1 with one second remaining in the Stoll penalty. The sequence of events began when Teppo Numminen slid to break up a potential Steve Staios shorthanded breakaway. The action then moved back up ice where Afinogenov and Derek Roy had a two-on-one. Staios committed to Afinogenov, who outwaited the Oilers defenceman before wristing a shot behind Markkanen from the right faceoff circle.

Edmonton had a chance to get back on even terms with some power play time in the third. Henrik Tallinder was penalized for clearing the puck over the glass and just as that penalty expired Numminen hooked Raffi Torres as he was about to break in alone on Miller, resulting in a two-minute penalty.

With less than seven minutes to play, Roy took a pass across the slot from Afinogenov and one-timed it past Markkanen to give the Sabres a 3-1 lead.

Edmonton had a late third-period power play and mounted an attack in the final minute but the Sabres were strong defensively and able to hold off the Oilers.

NOTES: Jani Rita drew back into the lineup for Edmonton with Georges Laraque a healthy scratch... Mike Morrison served as the backup to Jussi Markkanen after being recalled Sunday from Greenville (ECHL)... Igor Ulanov was the other scratch for Edmonton... Hemsky increased his scoring streak to seven games during which he's racked up 11 points (3g, 8a)... Marc-Andre Bergeron went to the dressing room late in the second after being struck in the hand with the puck. He returned to start the third... Buffalo improved to 6-1-1 against Western Conference opponents.
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