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Instant Reaction: Oilers blow early lead in Buffalo and lose in shootout to Sabres

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Photo credit:© Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Brennan Delaney
1 month ago
For the second straight game, the Oilers fell to a non-playoff team, as they lost by a score of 3-2 to the Buffalo Sabres. It was a low-scoring game that the Oilers should’ve won, but the Sabres ultimately managed to pull off a comeback.
The Oilers started the game with the line of Ryan McLeod, Leon Draisaitl, and Warren Foegele, and it paid immediate dividends. McLeod scored his 11th goal to tie his career high. Foegele found Draisaitl in the middle of the ice, who made a beautiful behind-the-back pass to McLeod on the doorstep.
McLeod and Foegele combined for Edmonton’s second goal of the game as well, as the two of them had a two-on-zero when the team was shorthanded. After several passes back and forth, Foegele buried it to score his 14th goal of the season, a new career high. You have to imagine he’ll get a raise as he hits free agency at the end of the season.
The shutout didn’t last long though, as the Sabres scored on the same power play. It was a bad rebound by Stuart Skinner. A Sabre got their stick on the puck and beat Skinner five-hole to make it a 2-1 game.
Fast-forward to the third period, and the Sabres are experiencing some sustained pressure in the offensive zone. The puck nearly left the zone (we’ll get to that), and Jacob Bryson beat Skinner with a weak backhander. After pulling out to a 2-0 lead, the Oilers blew the lead, which is not great.
With seconds left in overtime, Owen Power scored to win the game for the Sabres… for about five minutes —before the refs looked at it and saw it was off-side. Two words to describe this are “absolute chaos,” as the Oilers took nearly five minutes to get back on the bench.
With about two seconds remaining, Dylan Cozens nearly scored, but Skinner saved it. In the end, the Sabres won the game in the shootout, with Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins failing to score in the game-ending gimmick.

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Things worth mentioning…

Putting the second line back together makes a ton of sense. Draisaitl has a ton of chemistry with both McLeod and Foegele, and honestly, the line should have never been broken up. Within seconds of the game starting, they showed that they are usually the team with sustained. The two wingers benefit greatly from playing with Draisaitl.
Everything about post-regulation hockey in the regular season absolutely sucks. Three-on-three hockey was so exciting when the NHL implemented it, but it’s become worse than the shootout, with teams dropping back to the neutral zone to wear out the other team. The shootout itself obviously sucks as well. Playoff hockey is where it’s at.
Despite the second line’s success, the Oilers still needed a second-line winger. This game was reminiscent of the 16-game win streak, low-scoring against a bad team. Unlike the win streak, the Oilers were unable to close out the game, but all season, a second-line right-winger was a need.
The centre depth paid off for the Oilers, as they won 79.6% of faceoffs. At one point during the third period, the Oilers had won 30 faceoffs to the Sabres’ seven. At the end of the day, it didn’t really help much in a loss to the Sabres, but it is an interesting note.
Up next: The Oilers are back in action on Sunday, as they head to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins. Like Saturday, Sunday’s game will be a matinee, kickoff around 11:00 PM MT.

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