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PREVIEW: Oilers at Sabres

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers
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Get updates on all the most recent storylines, line combinations and more from Sunday's Oilers practice in Buffalo. 



BUFFALO, NY - The Edmonton Oilers will try to bounce back from their 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins and do so against a team who sits at the opposite end of the standings from their previous opponent. While the Bruins are perched at the top of the Eastern Conference, the Buffalo Sabres are 30th in the NHL with just 38 points this season. However, there is no room for overlooking the Sabres as the Oilers are just one spot ahead of them at 29th.

“We have to approach it the same way,” said Oilers winger David Perron. “We’re not in any position to make fun of anyone or take anyone lightly. We’re in the same position as them and we’re trying to get better every single day and build towards something that will make us a successful team.”

Oilers Jordan Eberle added, “I don’t think we’re in any position to take anyone lightly. We’re right with them so at the end of the day, this league’s about anyone can beat anybody at anytime. We’ve shown that. We beat teams and they’ve beat teams. I know they’re coming off a bit of a loss to Colorado too so they’re going to be anxious to get back here, in front of their home crowd and show them.”


Oilers defenceman Jeff Petry did not participate in yesterday’s practice which left some uncertainty as to whether or not he’d be ready for tonight’s game. He was listed as ‘day-to-day’ according to Head Coach Dallas Eakins. The bench boss upgraded the blueliner’s status this morning saying that Petry would fight through the pain in his foot and play tonight.

“He’s sore and uncomfortable but he’s going to rub some dirt on it and be fine to play,” Eakins said.

Petry took a puck off the skate against Boston on Saturday.

With Petry staying in the lineup, the defence will stay the same for the Oilers tonight. However, the pairings may look different and newly acquired Mark Fraser could see more time on the ice than his 12:02 against Boston in his debut.

“We’re still kicking it around,” Eakins said. “There’s the idea of just keeping it the same and then we may just shuffle the partners a little bit. Limiting Mark to 12 minutes was more of a case of he hadn’t played in a long time and we wanted to get him comfortable. I would like to up that by a couple of minutes at least and see where he’s at, but it will be the same six D, you might just get a little bit of different look.”


Despite some impressive goaltending by Ben Scrivens lately, Ilya Bryzgalov will get the nod in net tonight for the Oilers. Coach Eakins said that while he acknowledges Scrivens’ play, Bryzgalov has earned some game action as well.

“I thought Bryz had a good last outing. Even though Ben has played very well, especially the game at home that everybody’s been talking about, I think it’s important to keep both guys going and rewarding them. Bryz’s last outing was very good and he gets the game today.”

Bryzgalov made 25 saves in a win against Vancouver in the goalie’s last outing.


Lately, the Oilers have been getting the majority of their offence and scoring chances from their top line. Eakins says it’s time that the team’s forward depth starts pitching in and it shouldn’t take line shuffling to make it happen.

“All of our chances are coming off one line,” he said. “I think (Bob Stauffer) brought it up yesterday about maybe shuffling the lines out. We’ve considered it but rather than throw a band-aid on something, I’d rather challenge, especially our second line, to find a way for more chances for and that’s always through support. It’s always through having a head for the game.”

Perron seems to think it’s just a matter of getting the puck into the offensive zone and then the chances will come.

“Putting it by when we need to,” the forward said. “Anytime you have the chance to put it by and someone’s supporting and you don’t do it, it’s a turnover. You’re back in your zone, there’s going to be shots against you, scoring chances and instead, you could have been playing in the other zone so that’s obviously a big thing. We just can’t revert to our old habits. We’ve got to do it the right way like we did for four or five games and we had success that way.”

-- Chris Wescott,


OILERS (18-33-6) AT SABRES (15-31-8)


Last 10: Edmonton 3-6-1; Buffalo 2-5-3

Season series: The Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers have not played each other season. They last met more than two years ago, on Jan. 3 2012, when the Sabres used two third-period goals to edge the Oilers 4-3.

Big story: The Sabres are looking for their first home win since Jan 4. They have dropped six games in a row at First Niagara Center. The Oilers continue a four-game road trip; they will face the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils before the Olympic break.

Team Scope:

Oilers: Edmonton had won three games in a row before a 4-0 road loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday. It was the seventh time they were shut out this season. Despite facing a Sabres team with the fewest points in the League, the Oilers aren't expecting two points to come easy.

"We're in now position to take anyone lightly," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said after practice Sunday. "We are at where we are at in the standings. I expect Buffalo to come out hard after losing their game the way they did against Colorado."

The game features two teams with the fewest points in the NHL, with each looking for a win after suffering losses on Saturday.

"Anytime you see a team in the standings that is near you or below you, you want to beat them to kid of validate yourself a little bit," forward Taylor Hall said Sunday.

Sabres: Buffalo suffered a 7-1 defeat to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday afternoon, allowing three goals in the opening eight minutes of the game.

"You get beat 7-1, there's nothing good to come about from those games. You just gotta look past it and get ready for the next game," Sabres forward Marcus Foglino said after the game.

This followed an impressive 3-2 win against the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday, something the team hoped to build off of. Buffalo has not won back-to-back games in six weeks.

"We got out played every facet of the game from start to finish. Not much to build off tonight. We have to be a lot better if we want to get some points," forward Matt D’Agostini said.

Who's hot: Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens has allowed three goals in three games and has made 118 saves on 121 shots (.975 save percentage). ... Sabres forward Tyler Ennis has a goal and three assists in his past three games.

Injury report: Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry didn't skate Sunday after blocking a shot with his foot in the game against Boston but may be ready to go. ... Sabres' forwards Cody McCormick (upper body), Kevin Porter (lower body) and Drew Stafford (upper body) are on IR, and Matt Moulson will be out until after the Olympic break with an upper-body injury.


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