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Recap: Oilers 4 - Sabres 3

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NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Edmonton Oilers head to Buffalo to take on the Sabres. Neither team is particularly close to the playoffs, but I’m sure we’ll hear a lot from the commentators about the impact on the standings here.

I don’t mind though, this should still be a very good game. We have Connor McDavid going head-to-head with fellow 2015 draftee, Jack Eichel. We get Leon Draisaitl driving for 50 goals on the season, and I am very interested to see how Rasmus Dahlin looks. So far, he’s had a very good rookie season. Let’s hope the Oilers can get to three straight wins after that impressive victory over the Blue Jackets.

First Period:

Oilers win the opening faceoff courtesy of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He’s centering a line featuring Milan Lucic and Alex Chiasson. Unfortunately, it eventually leads to Alex Chiasson flipping the puck out of play, and taking a delay of game penalty less than a minute into the game.

On the Penalty Kill, Koskinen makes his first save of the game on a Jack Eichel shot, and then...

LEON DRAISAITL!!!!!!

Connor McDavid leads the two on one with Leon Draisaitl after taking a lead pass from Darnell Nurse, feeds it across to Leon, and Leon’s one-timer gives him 41 on the year, and the Oilers up 1-0.

On the same Penalty Kill, Zack Kassian gets a partial breakaway, but just cant get a good one-handed backhand off as he’s trying to hold of the defender.

And STILL the same Penalty Kill, Jack Eichel equalizes the game. Adam Larsson lost his stick, and #2 from 2015 took advantage cutting to the net and beating Mikko Koskinen. Easy come, easy go. 1-1.

Five minutes into the game, Buffalo gets a good chance after some end-to-end action. Conor Sheary takes a shot from the slot, and Koskinen has to stand tall — which is pretty easy, given his height.

Rasmus Dahlin shows us why he is so highly-touted as he gets a good chance. Koskinen is doing quite well so far. Each team is getting rushes and zone-time, but the Sabres are turning them into chances.

Eight minutes into the game and the Oilers still only have one shot on net, the goal. That isn’t good, but it’s also mis-leading, they’re playing fast and aggressive right now. It’s not like one of those other games where it’s a bore. This time that fact surprises me.

As if on cue, the very next shift shows exactly why that’s surprising. Darnell Nurse makes another good pass — he’s improving here — to Connor McDavid who find Leon Draisaitl in the slot. Leon bobbles the pass and can’t get a shot off. They’re struggle to get the puck on net, despite continuing decent fundamental hockey.

Half way through the period, Leon Draisaitl makes a great pass to Kassian. He brings the puck across the line, looks at McDavid the whole time and places a perfect no-look pass to Kassian for the shot on net. No goal, but excellent mis-direction.

The Jeff Skinner line just got a few good shots on Koskinen, and I am starting to regret my decision to time this as I go. For the last handful of games, I've had all sorts of time to type without missing anything. That is not the case tonight.

McDavid rings it off the post after intercepting a pass, giving it to Draisaitl, and taking a no-look, one-time pass, really cool play. No luck.

With 6:31 remaining, Casey Mittelstadt takes a feed from Griffin Reinhart’s brother, Sam, and bests Mikko Koskinen to make it 2-1, Sabres. On the plus side, I can still do more pull-ups than him.

And with 2:36 left, Jack Eichel doubles the lead for the Sabres. Darnell Nurse misread the pinch, and the Sabres game in three-on-one. Eichel elects to shoot and beats Koskinen on the blocker. 3-1, Sabres.

The Oilers got one more chance before the period ended but Darnell Nurse couldn’t beat Linus Ullmark.

The period ends 3-2, Sabres, while they also own the shot clock 14-7. The Oilers played reasonably well until that 2nd goal against. How they play in the 2nd is going to have a lot to do with how this game ends.

2nd Period:

Oilers come out strong with a Chiasson, Draisaitl, Rieder line. Adam Larsson ends up walking in from the blueline and getting a good shot on Ullmark.

Next up, a McDavid line featuring RNH, and Kassian. Unfortunately, the line doesn’t amount to much, but does see Jeff Skinner getting a partial break. Kris Russell hounds him down and keeps him from cutting across. He even does so without lying on his stomach.

The Sam Gagner, Kyle Brodziak, and Ty Rattie line have a good shift, four minutes in. They keep the puck in the Sabres end and try to get some shots from the slot. A lot of board work and keep away. Ends with a Larsson shot. Nothing much came of it but they did well there.

A two on one with Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner develops, Eichel waits for the trailer, gets the pass across but luckily the play is broken up by Russell.

And six minutes in, the Oilers get their first powerplay. Another delay of game. Last time we had a goal each at 5v4, let’s see how it goes here.

The Oilers are really struggling with the drop-pass entry and can’t get set up at all. The Sabres clear it over and over, including one by Ullmark. Powerplay ends, nothing intelligent took place.

Oilers have a bad defensive breakdown ten minutes in, and Koskinen has to make up for a lot of scrambling. This is the kind of play that could be put into a gif, accompanied by circus music. Very lucky to not get scored on. The Sabres had some good shots on there.

With eight and a half left, Oscar Kelfbom gets his stick up high on Johan Larsson, and the Oilers are going to be killing a penalty. Another shorty would be nice about now.

For the first minute, he Sabres were firing at will. Luckily, they seem to miss the net a lot. Very ugly looking penalty kill going on there.

The Oilers ended up killing the penalty; or, the penalty ended before the Sabres scored. That was one that works on the stat-sheet, but they gave up a ton of shots and couldn’t clear. Oof.

And immediately after, Mittlestadt centers to Wilson forcing Koskinen to make another huge save. Suddenly, being down by two goals seems pretty good.

The pace of this game has slowed down significantly from the speed of earlier in this game.

The Oilers are getting a good shift here with the Draisaitl line on the ice. Pinning them deep and taking shots at the net. It ends with McDavid coming on the ice and taking a shot. Ullmark has it.

With 3:30 left, Zack Kassian finishes off a beautiful setup from McDavid, and the Oilers cut the lead in half. That was a fantastic pass. 3-2.

Very shortly after that, Leon Draisaitl fools the defender, drives to the net, and dishes to Gagner for a great chance. Eventually it leads to Leon getting the puck on half wall, making an exceptional pass, and Darnell Nurse blasting one past Ullmark to tie the game. 3-3. We’re exciting again.

Skinner hits the post from the blueline with a minute left. Really important not to give up the tie here.

Ok, never mind, the Oilers score with four seconds left. A Larsson shot from the blueline gets tipped by Brodziak and beats Ullmark. We have a very unexpected lead here.

The period ends 4-3 Oilers. The Oilers were badly outplayed for large parts of that period, especially on special teams, but scored three more goals, and had more shots on goal. The fans are booing as the teams leave the ice. One period close out.

3rd Period:

Carter Hutton has replaced Linus Ullmark in the Sabres goal to start this period. That’s what happens with a bad few minutes right before the end of a period.

Two minutes in, Rusmus Dahlin tees up a really hard shot from the blueline. Koskinen fought it off with the blocker, required perfect technique.

After a few minutes of turtling, the Oilers finally get some offensive zone time, including two shots from the slot by Draisaitl and Chiasson. Really would have been nice for Chiasson to finish that rebound.

The game is getting fun again. McDavid is doing his thing in the neautral zone, stripping pucks and getting around defenders. Kassian dropped Scott Wilson with a huge hit leading to some major zone time. 14 minutes left. I’ll take killing it off but I’m feeling a goal.

Ten minutes left and the pace is strong. It’s a bit sloppy as you can expect from teams like this, passes being missed, and panic play, but it is pretty fun.

Jeff Skinner just came very close to the tying goal as the puck bounced behind Koskinen and through the crease.

We’re back into a very conservative playing style now. The Oilers are doing their best to keep it away throughout all zones, and using all the space they need.

With just under five to play, Kris Russel collides with a Buffalo player (don’t know who because it cut to commercial) and it appears that he’s going to sit in the box. Koskinen is going to have to be very good here if the last PK is any indication.

Ok, apparently there isn’t a penalty, never mind. This is why Sportsnet shouldn’t cut to commercials like that. This is very goof news though.

Draisaitl made a bad turnover as he entered the zone leading to the Sabres getting a shot. Koskinen has it.

Andrej Sekera gets a shot on net. He’s had a pretty good game despite not being involved in many of the events.

Two minutes left, have to think the Sabres are going to pull the goalie soon. And there it is.

Sabres are moving the puck around the outside very well. Marco Scandella ends up with a great shot on net, Koskinen gets it, doesn’t hang on, the puck makes its way to Eichel and Koskinen comes up with another huge save.

Timeout Sabres, and I need it just as much.

McDavid comes in for the empty net and..... missed. Uh oh, this has a Patrik Stefan feel to it. The Oilers take a penalty with 45 seconds left now, too. Leon Draisaitl for interference.

Koskinen makes a save on Dahlin. The Oilers get the puck out and the Sabres come racing in with 12 seconds left.

Jeff Skinner pulls Adam Larsson’s stick, and now he’s headed to the box. 2.8 seconds left, faceoff in the Sabres end. I’m calling it a win. 4-3 Oilers.

Notes:

  • Jeff Skinner is really good. He had a ton of chances.
  • Fun game overall, I would recap one like that anytime.
  • Leon Draisaitl was great today. No lazy plays, a goal, an assist, and he is worth every cent of his contract.
  • Kassian plays the F1 position extremely well. It’s still not ideal to have him on the top line, but he’s holding his own, and letting McNuge do their thing.
  • Koskinen was outstanding. We’re going to need some of that.
  • Special teams were a joke on our end. It was nice to get that shorthanded goal, but oof.
  • Oilers have now won three straight, and have looked competent doing so.
  • Not the prettiest of wins, but it was fun. And a regulation win to boot.