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Oilers Blow Lead in 3-2 Loss To Sabres

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The Oilers get goals from Sheahan and Nugent-Hopkins but fail to hold on in Buffalo

Don’t see that everyday.

The Edmonton Oilers dropped a 3-2 OT decision to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night. The game-winner came off the stick of Jack Eichel as he was awarded the elusive overtime penalty shot.

The Oilers led the Sabres for most of the game after they got goal from Riley Sheahan and Nugent-Hopkins early in the first period, but failed to hold on as the Sabres pressed. It was a disappointing loss to say the least, as the Oilers fail to win consecutive games once again.

It sucked....but it is what it is I suppose. We can always find solace in that loser point. How did it get to this point? Well let me elaborate:

First Period:

The Edmonton Oilers came out on an absolute mission to start this one. The newly formed line of RNH-Draisaitl-Yamamoto was clicking and had a few very good shifts early in the period. Yamamoto in particular was impressing me early on with his tenacity on the boards and positioning in the offensive zone. It wouldn’t be that line that would the net first, however, as Riley Sheahan would tuck home a rebound off a point shot by Adam Larsson. Sheahan’s 4th of the year would make it 1-0 Edmonton with 14:54 on the clock.

The pressure would continue from the Oilers as that aforementioned 2nd line would add to that lead less than 2 minutes later. Some good offensive pressure would eventually find the puck on the stick of Leon Draisaitl on the blue-line. Draisaitl would wait for traffic to form in front of the Buffalo net before he let off a slapshot. The initial shot would be stopped by Linus Ullmark but the rebound found Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who would make no mistake. In a mere 1:56 the Oilers amassed themselves an early 2-0 lead.

Buffalo wouldn’t sit back. The Sabres would come back with pressure of their own on the following shift and Curtis Lazar would score off a feed in front of Mike Smith. It wasn’t an awful goal for Smith to let in....but it wasn’t great either. At this point it was only the second shot that Smith had faced.

Luckily the goal wouldn’t give much momentum to the Sabres and the period ended without any further goals.

Second Period:

The second period was definitely a more tame one when compared to the first period. The Sabres were much more dominant than they were in the first period but not by a long shot. They nearly tied things up in the first few minutes but a great defensive play by Riley Sheahan was able to prevent it from going in.

We did get the first few penalties of the game in this period. The first one went to Kassian after he got caught hooking Victor Olofsson. This wasn’t a problem for the Edmonton league leading penalty kill as they were able to kill the penalty without much problem. It was then Edmonton’s turn on the power-play a few minutes later. The team was able to score 3 PP goals in Tuesday’s matchup against the Rangers, but they wouldn't get that luck tonight. The Oilers were unable to get much setup and failed to record a single shot on goal.

The real story of this period was Mike Smith. After allowing just the second shot he faced in the first period, Smith was able to lock things down in the second period. He was able to stifle a short-handed 2-on-1 and then stonewalled Victor Olofsson on a partial breakaway glove save late in the period.

The Oilers carried that 2-1 lead into the third period.

Third Period:

It seemed as though the Oilers had more energy at the beginning of the period compared to the 2nd but it was the Sabres that quickly took over the game in this frame. A point shot by Zach Bogosian would be tipped by Sam Reinhart and find its way past Mike Smith to tie things up early in the period.

From here it was the Sabres that pushed hard to find the go-ahead goal. Leon Draisaitl would have a very good chance soon after as he let go a howitzer of a wrist shot at the top of the circles that Ullmark got just enough of his glove on to deflect it wide. Buffalo’s sustained pressure would eventually result in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins getting caught with a hooking penalty with 8 minutes left on the clock. The Sabres would apply even more pressure but the Oilers would remain perfect on the penalty kill.

Mike Smith would bend....but he would not break. For the second time this season the Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres would be deadlocked at 2 goals apiece and head to overtime.

Overtime:

The overtime period didn't last long...as the Sabres had most of the pressure in this one.

The first real chance would come off the stick of Jack Eichel as he burst down the ice on a breakaway but failed to get a shot on goal due to a hook by Draisaitl.....which would result in a penalty shot. Eichel would make no mistake on the chance to win the game and sealed the deal with a nifty shot over the glove of Mike Smith.

It wasn't your typical overtime loss but it stings all the same. The Oilers drop their first game of 2020 3-2 to the Sabres.

Takeaways:

  • A lot of people, myself included, were very worried about how Mike Smith would play heading into this one. The guy has been struggling as of late and the Oilers needed a solid performance in net against a desperate Buffalo team. And the Oilers got just that with Mike Smith. He weathered a third period surge by the Sabres and gave the team a fighting chance in this one. Hopefully he’s finally figured things out.
  • I really liked what I saw from tonight’s second line. The trio of RNH, Draisaitl, and Yamamoto clicked all night long and had plenty of shifts with sustained pressure. This might be the best second line the Oilers have had since Jordan Eberle left town.
  • In particular I loved what I saw from Yamamoto. He was tenacious on the puck and used his speed to his advantage all night long. He got an assist for his troubles and he might be sticking around this time around.
  • I though Draisaitl had his best game in recent memory. He was a force all night long and, apart from the penalty that resulted in Eichel’s penalty shot GWG, I thought he had a solid night.
  • Nugent-Hopkins continued to stay hot tonight as well with a goal of his own....hopefully this scoring touch is here to stay.
  • The Oilers once again failed to hold onto the win even as they led after 40 minutes. It seems to have become a trend for the Oilers to make the third period as hectic as possible lately....Dave Tippett will have to address the team and we can only hope they put in more 60 minute performances.
  • You hate to see the team lose a game the way they did tonight but I am all about those silver linings. With the loser’s point tonight the team leapfrogs ahead of Vancouver in the division to take sole possession of 3rd place. This is dependant on the Canuck’s losing their matchup with the Blackhawks tonight.
  • You can catch the Oilers on part 2 of their road trip this Saturday as they head to Boston to take on the Bruins.