G62 Game Notes: Edmonton Oilers face Buffalo Sabres looking to start new winning streak

Cam Lewis
1 month ago
1. Following a lacklustre loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, the Edmonton Oilers will play a weekend back-to-back, starting against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday afternoon and wrapping up with another matinee against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.
The Oilers extended their winning streak to five games with a 2-1 overtime victory over the Boston Bruins earlier in the week but came out flat in Columbus a couple of days later. They’ll look to start a new winning streak with two winnable games this weekend.
2. The Sabres, who took over the title of longest playoff drought in NHL history from the Oilers and Florida Panthers a couple of years ago, are well on their way to missing the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season. They finished just shy of a playoff spot last year with 91 points but have taken a step back in 2023-24 and own a 29-30-5 record following the trade deadline.
Buffalo moved a couple of long-time players ahead of Friday’s deadline as the team spirals within a perpetual rebuild.
Kyle Okposo, who the team signed to play alongside Jack Eichel following his rookie season, was traded to the Florida Panthers. He played out the entirety of his seven-year contract with the Sabres and came back on another one-year deal but didn’t see the playoffs in Buffalo.
Casey Mittelstadt was Buffalo’s first-round selection at No. 8 overall in the 2017 draft, two years after Eichel. He made his debut with the Sabres the following season and slowly developed into a very effective two-way centre. After seven seasons with the organization, Mittelstadt was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for defenceman Bowen Byram.
3. The Sabres rank 23rd in the league in goals for this season and they’re 13th in goals against. Rasmus Dahlin and Mittelstadt are tied for the team lead in scoring with 47 points and Jeff Skinner and Alex Tuch are the only other two players on the team with at least 40 points. Tage Thompson has seen a considerable decline after last year’s 47-goal, 47-assist campaign, as the power forward has only 18 goals and 17 assists in 53 games this season.
One of the positives in Buffalo this season has been the play of goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. Selected in the second round of the 2017 draft, the same as Mittelstadt, Luukkonen is in the midst of his best season in the NHL, as he owns a .914 save percentage over a career-high 39 games. Eric Comrie played in the Sabres’ most recent game, so it’s expected that Luukkonen will start for the Oilers.
4. The Oilers are 38-21-2 following the trade deadline and still have a chance to win the Pacific Division. They’re 11 points back of the Vancouver Canucks with four games in hand. The two teams only have one more head-to-head this season so the Oilers need to be beating teams like Buffalo if they’re going to catch the Canucks.
Stuart Skinner is expected to start for the Oilers against the Sabres on Saturday and then Calvin Pickard will likely play against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday, resulting in an even split between the two goalies on this four-game road trip. The forward lines were shuffled up as well, with Ryan McLeod and Warren Foegele returning to Leon Draisaitl’s wings along with Evander Kane and Corey Perry lining up with Adam Henrique at centre.

Check out these posts...