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Instant Reaction: Five-goal third period leads Oilers to 8-3 pounding over Sabres

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Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Brennan Delaney
21 days ago
It’s not how you start, but how you end it, as the Oilers defeated the Buffalo Sabres at home by a score of 8-3. With the win, they now move to 88 points on the season, five ahead of the Los Angeles Kings for home ice in the first round.
As mentioned, it wasn’t a pretty start to the game. They lost a man in front of the net when Connor McDavid went to help Mattias Ekholm to the right of Stuart Skinner. The puck found its way in front of the net to a wide-open JJ Peterka, who made no mistake.
Buffalo jumped out to a 2-0 lead late in the first period as Viktor Olofsson received the puck in the slot, quickly turned and fired it, beating Stuart Skinner, who was screened. It is what it is.
However, the Oilers got on the board late in the first period via a Leon Draisaitl power-play goal. You’d expect it to be a one-timer to the goalie’s left side, right? Nope, there was a net-front battle, and he just poked it in.
Mattias Ekholm’s offensive abilities are incredibly underrated, and he showed why on the second Oilers goal of the game. About five minutes in, he and Evander Kane had a two-on-one. Ekholm pulled up with a nice toe drag and beat Buffalo’s netminder top shelf for his first of two in the game, spoiler alert.
It was Buffalo’s last grasp, as JJ Peterka scored his second of the game. Kulak blew an edge, Buffalo kept the puck in, and a slow-moving shot fooled Stuart Skinner as he was expecting a fastball. With about three minutes left in the second period, the Sabres (who are in a playoff race, by the way) should be able to close it out, right?
Nope. As with the slightest amount of pressure, Buffalo’s defence couldn’t clear the zone, and Zach Hyman got a piece of Mattias Ekholm’s shot to tie the game in the final minute of the second.
It was all Edmonton in the third period, as you can imagine with that score. There was a wild scramble in front of the net, and Buffalo got the puck to the blue line, but not out as Troy Stecher kept it in. He passed it over to Darnell Nurse, who somehow found the back of the net.
Ekhlom’s second goal of the game came after a nice move from McDavid. He found Draisaitl, who dropped it back for Ekholm, who blasted it in for his second goal of the game.
Hyman also scored his second goal of the game on a broken play. Connor McDavid found him all alone in front of the goal and, as he always does, was able to bury it. This was also his 48th goal of the season, and 60 is within reach. Hyman also had eight shots, which is just hilarious.
For the second time in the game, Evander Kane joined his teammate on a two-on-one, and for the second time, his teammate did it all himself as Ryan McLeod uncorked a beautiful shot off the post and in for a 7-3 lead.
With nine seconds left in the game, Cody Ceci passed it to Sam Carrick on the doorstep, who found Connor Brown all alone with a net wide open for his second goal of the season. Don’t let him get going.

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Things worth mentioning…

Connor McDavid picked up four points to bring him to 112 points on the season. Nikita Kucherov came into Thursday evening leading with 118 points (now 119), but it looks like McDavid will gain a few for the Art Ross race. He also had four hits and no shots, a pretty funny stat.
Leon Draisaitl had a three-point game, scoring a goalie and also assisting on two goals. The German now has 35 goals and 90 points on the season, and it looks like he’ll be a five-time 100-point scorer before the end of the season.
Mattias Ekholm scored twice and also picked up an assist, giving him seven goals and 33 points on the season. Ekholm is lauded for his defensive abilities and for helping Bouchard become a better two-way player, but he is also a pretty good point-producer in his own right.
Brett Kulak was the only defenceman without a point, as Evan Bouchard had two assists, Cody Ceci and Troy Stecher both had one assist, and Darnell Nurse had a goal. Bouchard also played 23:53 minutes, the most for any player on the Oilers and the second most for any player.
Up next: The Oilers will return to action on Saturday as they’ll head to the Centre of the Universe to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’ll be a 5:00 PM MT game on Hockey Night In Canada, which will surely be a fun one. They’ll play on Sunday afternoon against the Ottawa Senators as well. 

If you enjoy my content, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.

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