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A Fourth Line Win

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Something we haven't seen in a long time is 2/3rds of a fourth line that can actually play hockey but that's what the Oilers gave us tonight.

Lander, Fraser and Gazdic celebrate on a great 4th line effort in tonight's game
Lander, Fraser and Gazdic celebrate on a great 4th line effort in tonight's game
Chris LaFrance-USA TODAY Sports

If there was ever a game that wasn’t worth watching tonight’s contest between the Edmonton Oilers and the Buffalo Sabres was the game. The only thing on the line was the Connor McDavid Sweepstakes and the title of worst team in the NHL. A win by the Buffalo Sabres would’ve tied the two teams for last overall and because Buffalo has more wins than Edmonton, the Oilers would’ve been bumped down to 30th.

Well that didn’t happen thanks to the efforts of the Oilers’ 4th line of Anton Lander, Matt Fraser and Luke Gazdic/Teddy Purcell. They played well and it paid off even if winning doesn’t really matter at this point in the season.

Highlights

First Period

  • 17:38 GOAL - The Oilers & the Sabres battle for the puck behind the Oilers’ net. Torrey Mitchell makes a wrap around attempt but the goes right out to Tyler Myers in alone in the faceoff circle. Ben Scrivens is out of position and Myers puts it away.
  • 12:29 5v4 - Myers for Holding - Drawn by Rob Klinkhammer
  • 10:29 5v5 - Penalty expires
  • 7:33 GOAL - Luke Gazdic, knowing that he should never touch the puck, takes out a Sabres player along the boards. The puck goes to Anton Lander behind the net and makes a quick pass to Matt Fraser. Fraser releases it right away and puts it in the net.
  • 4:58 GOAL - Oscar Klefbom scores on a pass from Anton Lander.

Second Period

  • 16:15 5v4 - Brian Gionta for tripping - Drawn by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
  • 14:15 5v5 - Penalty expires
  • 8:31 4v5 - Boyd Gordon for tripping - Drawn by Tyler Ennis
  • 6:31 5v5 - Penalty expires

Third Period

  • 14:12 FIGHT - Gazdic & Nicolas DesLauriers
  • 13:33 - Nikita Nikitin gets hit hard by Zemgus Girgensons and leaves favouring his shoulder
  • 12:30 - Benoit Pouliot gets a clean break away but Jhonas Enroth makes the stop
  • 12:08 GOAL - Fraser picks off a pass from Drew Staford. Lander gets the puck and Purcell and Lander get a great break. Purcell gets the puck and gets it over to Lander who puts it up high on Enroth
  • 9:10 - Jordan Eberle gets the puck in the slot and rings it off the post
  • 2:02 GOAL - Enroth goes to the bench and immediately Gionta gets a shot and the rebound goes directly to Rasmus Ristolainen
  • 1:31 5v4 - Mike Weber for holding - Drawn by Pouliot
  • 0:10 4v4 - Matt Hendricks for tripping - Drawn by Ristolainen

Thoughts

No matter how you try to slice it a win is a win even if it means a less of a chance at Connor McDavid. Lets face it the Oilers don’t really need another high draft pick to flaunt, they need to win even if at this point in the season it means absolutely nothing.

The fourth line looked good. Even Gazdic had a decent game which is something I never thought I’d write. Anton Lander is starting to look like a legitimate NHL player and Fraser has helped bring a much needed push to that line.

But before we get ahead of ourselves we also need to remember who the Oilers faced tonight. They face Buffalo a team that has now lost 13 games in a row (that’s right Alan I told you that Buffalo was looking better than they were early on in the season). This is not the LA Kings or the San Jose Sharks, they aren’t even the Arizona Coyotes (remember those guys that the Oilers couldn’t beat in 5 meetings earlier this season?). This was the Buffalo Sabres and they are bad. They are 13 losses in a row bad. So yes it’s nice to see the Oilers win but they need to start beating better teams if they really want to turn any of this around in the next 2 or 3 seasons.

Up Next

Yay the Flames. A team that I get to hear about every day and how great they are compared to the Oilers (wife's a Flames fan & I live in Calgary). If there is a game the Oilers need to win, Saturday’s contest is it. If they want to get some pride back, beating the Flames is a start.