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RECAP: Oilers 4, Sabres 2

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers


COMING SOON: IN FOCUS | Oilers TV Reporter Tom Gazzola has the post-game reaction from Rexall Place
COMING SOON: OTHER SIDE | Unedited interviews with Sabres players and coach
The Oilers continue their homestand by hosting the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. MT. It can be seen on Sportsnet Oilers and heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.

EDMONTON, AB– The Oilers made it three-straight wins for only their second time this season, downing the visiting Buffalo Sabres 4-2.

Even after the win, players had their focus on the upcoming schedule.

“Winning is why we play hockey. It’s fun. It’s nice to be on a bit of a streak here,” said Oilers winger Jordan Eberle. “The way I look at it, as most of us do, is this is one game. We can be happy about our effort and move forward. We’ve got a good team coming in Wednesday. We’ve got to be ready for that. That’s our mindset.”

The Oilers and Sabres selected first and second respectively in the 2015 NHL Draft. The Oilers took Connor McDavid first, and then the Sabres selected Jack Eichel. The latter scored his ninth goal of the season to put Buffalo on top 1-0 at 6:58 of the first.

Brian Gionta and Jamie McGinn recorded the assists on the deft backhand bury of Eichel, who went blocker-side of Oilers goaltender Anders Nilsson.

That may have been the high of the game for the Sabres, with Edmonton scoring the next three goals.

“I think I could have had the first one. I definitely want to have that back,” said Nilsson. “It was nice to see after that first goal how the team responded and how we bounced back and scored three unanswered goals right away. It feels good as a goalie when you let in a weak one but then you see your teammates really step up for you and score a few goals. That’s a really nice thing.”

On a delayed penalty, Taylor Hall spun at the blueline and fired a long-range shot on Chad Johnson. On its way to the net, Teddy Purcell got a piece of the puck, redirecting it in for the equalizer at 9:36. Leon Draisaitl recorded a second assist on the goal.

At 16:06 of the first, the Oilers took a 2-1 lead. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins won a battle along the boards and fed Eberle in front. Eberle made no mistake, potting his fifth of the season past the glove of Johnson.

“Nuge made a really good play,” said Eberle. “I had a lot of chances tonight again. I think five or six shots. You’re making plays, things are happening, and it’s always nice to help the team win.”

Eberle has a goal in two straight games after a streak of six without a point.

On the power play, Hall scored his team-leading 11th goal of the season to make it 3-1 at 18:55 of the first. Purcell had the puck at the side of the net and flipped it out in front. It hit a Sabres defenceman in front and Hall fired the loose puck past Johnson.

The Sabres drew back within one at 13:22 of the second period. On the power play, Zach Bogosian found Ryan O’Reilly alone in front and the Sabres top scorer beat Nilsson one on one.

The goal came moments after the Oilers had a shorthanded chance at the other end, but Anton Lander fired his shot off the post.

With 2:17 left in the second, it looked like Edmonton had taken back their two-goal lead. Luke Gazdic crashed the net and the puck went in off his skate. After review, it was ruled there was no distinct kicking motion and the goal stood, until Sabres Head Coach Dan Bylsma challenged that there was goaltender interference.

That too was found to not be the case and, again, the Oilers goal stood as they took a 4-2 lead over Buffalo. Oscar Klefbom and Lander recorded the assists on Gazdic’s first goal of the season.

The Oilers were able to hold the Sabres at bay in the third, despite being outshot 16-6. Nilsson was lockdown in net and the Oilers killed off a penalty five minutes into the frame.

“That was a pretty good period for our team, up two goals against a team that has showed they can come back late in games,” said Hall. “Todd challenged us yesterday with some video clips on how we’re going to handle situations. The puck is on our stick, are we going to go for that extra play or are we just going to play it safe sometimes and make the right play? Tonight was a really good forward step for that.”

Nilsson continued his hot streak, making 32 saves for the Oilers, helping them close out the win. Next up for Edmonton is a showdown with the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday in Todd McLellan’s first game coaching against his former team.
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