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Photo Credit: © Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Oilers 4, Sabres 3 post-game Oil Spills: Stayin’ Alive

The Oilers are showing a lot of resilience recently. Despite having a very steep uphill battle to reach the playoffs, the team has played hard and well in recent weeks. Last night in Buffalo, the Oilers were down 3-1, but didn’t give up and clawed their way to a 4-3 win.

What happened?

Leon’s pursuit of 50 got off to a good start last night as Connor McDavid fed Draisaitl on a two-on-one for a snipe past Linus Ullmark. This play all starts with a nice outlet pass from Darnell Nurse, who is on pace to shatter the 40-point plateau.

Buffalo answered back immediately on a play that Adam Larsson would like to forget. The Sabres kept the puck in at the blueline, Larsson dropped his stick, and while he was trying to pick it up and regroup, Jack Eichel ripped past him and went roof on Mikko Koskinen.

Buffalo added a couple more goals before the end of the first period to give them a 3-1 lead, but an explosion late in the second period completely flipped the game on its head. It started when McDavid fed a gorgeous pass across the zone to Zack Kassian for a one-time bomb past Ullmark.

A couple of minutes later, Draisaitl threw a no-look pass into the high slot and Darnell Nurse came down from the point for another one-time bomb past Ullmark. That’s excellent awareness from Nurse to activate from the point and excellent awareness from Draisaitl to see him pinching in while battling on the boards.

In the dying seconds of the third, Adam Larsson got a wrist shot on net and Kyle Brodziak redirected it past Ullmark to the give the Oilers the lead. In just three-and-a-half minutes, the Oilers turned a two-goal deficit to a one-goal lead.

The Oilers had a little bit of good luck in the third period defending the one-goal lead. Jeff Skinner hit the post down low on what probably should and been a goal, then, later on, Jason Pominville botched a glorious open-net opportunity by stopping his own shot on the follow through.

By the numbers

The game was split down the middle for the first two periods, then Edmonton, predictably, went into more of a shell in the final few minutes, which skews this in Buffalo’s favour when it comes to the shot battle. Despite Buffalo dominating possession in the final frame, the Oilers kept the Sabres to just two high danger chances at even strength.

Thoughts…

  • That was one of the wildest games I’ve watched this season. The third period was just an absolute trip with all those gaffes and posts from the Sabres. I also can’t think of too many instances in which the Oilers have erased a two-goal deficit in a matter of minutes as they did in the second period last night. In the past, we would have seen the Oilers wilt when down by a few goals, but, to their credit, they played hard the whole way through, took the momentum when they could, and ran with it.
  • Edmonton ended up going 3-1-1 on this road trip. The only bad part was getting shelled by Toronto, but earning wins against solid teams like Columbus and Buffalo and a loser point to a top team like Nashville was impressive. As I said at the beginning of the post, the battle is extremely uphill, but the Oilers are staying alive in the Western Conference playoff chase.
  • Leon Draisaitl’s dominant stretch has been a treat to watch. I don’t think I’ve seen him play this well since he was the team’s best player during the 2017 playoff run. Leon now has 41 goals and 42 assists, putting both a 50-goal and 100-point season within reach.
  • The team is now 5-1-2 with Andrej Sekera in the lineup. It’s amazing what having the ideal blueline can do for the team. Sekera adds a calming presence to the team with his responsible play in the defensive zone and his ability to move the puck effectively in transition. Unsurprisingly, Mikko Koskinen’s numbers have been much better as of late as the Oilers are actually icing their ideal blueline.