The Edmonton Oilers welcomed the Buffalo Sabres to Rogers Place on Tuesday night, looking for a bit of redemption after missing out on two points over the weekend. Brad Malone was sent down, Markus Niemelainen drew in, and Stuart Skinner made his season debut after looking real good on Saturday.
Nothing doing early in this one. Evander Kane had a wonderful opportunity to open the scoring on the first shift from in close, but he couldn’t finish.
Moments later, Darnell Nurse ate a crosscheck in the mush from Jeff Skinner, which eventually resulted in coincidental minors for Skinner and Brett Kulak after a skirmish. A few seconds after that, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins took a penalty, putting Buffalo on the PP.
Like five seconds after that? Buffalo found the game’s first goal via Rasmus Dahlin.
Fortunately, Edmonton took very little time to respond. Nurse picked up a loose puck in front of the Oilers goal and started the rush. He traded the puck with Leon Draisaitl and, eventually, finished that same rush. 1-1. LFG.
A couple of minutes later, Edmonton drew their first PP of the game thanks to Ryan Murray getting his helmet ripped off. Edmonton flung the puck around with their typical panache but couldn’t find a go-ahead goal, though they did generate a bit of momentum on the man advantage.
The Oilers continued to press the pace for the majority of the first period, and managed to draw another penalty with about four minutes left. This time, through Neimelainen.
Once again, the Oilers vaunted PP couldn’t find another one. Edmonton did go real close with mere seconds left as Kailer Yamamoto had a good look from between the hashes, but he hit the bar. 1-1 after 20 minutes. Edmonton with a healthy 15-6 lead on the shot clock — including 8 of the last 9 in the frame— which was a nice change after two games on the wrong end of it against Vancouver and Calgary.
The Oilers limped out of the room to start P2 and it cost them. Within seconds of the opening draw, Tage Thompson walked a handful of Oilers — including Skinner — and tucked home the go-ahead goal. 1-2.
A few moments after that, Ilya Lyubushkin almost killed Dylan Holloway. Seriously. It was an inch-perfect hit and it was like a car crash. Holloway went straight to the room and the Oilers were down to 10 forwards. Warren Foegele, who made the pass that almost got Holloway manslaughtered, went to his defense and got an extra two minutes for his trouble/honor/obeisance to code.
The Sabres didn’t get one on the ensuing PP but did get one shortly after via J.J. Peterka breakaway. 1-3.
Per the broadcast, that’s now the third time in three home games to start the year in which the Oilers have trailed by at least two goals. Yikes.
Edmonton stabilized a little bit from there — I mean, they had to — but couldn’t find any ways back into the game despite their efforts. At one point, Nurse coughed up the puck on the OZ blue, but then stormed back and made a play on Alex Tuch to disrupt the breakaway chance. I think that’s called getting your twelve million dollars’ worth.
Skinner seemed to settle down as the period went along, which came in handy for Edmonton after Ryan McLeod took a penalty with only a few minutes remaining. Buffalo couldn’t put the game to bed, however, so the Oilers (theoretically) still had a chance going into the break. 1-3 after 40, with the shots closer to level at 24-19 in favour of Edmonton.
Edmonton started the third period awake, which was a nice change in their character arc. Frankly they were dominant. All roads led to Eric Comrie. Unfortunately, Comrie stood tall on this night. Through the first 15 minutes of P3, Edmonton outshot Buffalo 14-4. Jay Woodcroft threw the lines into the Vitamix, Stuart Skinner went to the bench with about two minutes remaining. It was over.
A huge scramble in front of Comrie saw Connor McDavid fish it out of a bamboo forest of legs and put it on a stainless steel chafing dish for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to wire home from the low slot. 2-3. LFG.
RNH scored with just over 90 seconds remaining and the Oilers absolutely piled on the Sabres for every single one of them. Comrie had to make a number of saves from good looks as it looked more like a matter of when than if for Edmonton.
With about 10 seconds left, Zach Hyman couldn’t pick it up cleanly off the corner boards and eventually turned it over in the slot. Tuch took it from there and slotted into the empty net to seal it. 2-4. Final. Edmonton had 23 shots in P3. One less than Buffalo had all night.
Fire Bob Nicholson. Then fire Ken Holland.
The Carolina Hurricanes. In Edmonton. Thursday at 7PM. See you then.