Preview: Sabres at Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers continue their four-game homestand Sunday when they welcome a Buffalo Sabres squad whose hot start to the season seems like a distant memory. The Sabres, who started 9-2-1 but are 4-9-5 since, hope to end their Western Canada trip with a victory after they lost 4-3 to Calgary on Thursday and followed that up with a 6-5 overtime setback Saturday against Vancouver.
Marcus Johansson scored with less than a minute remaining in regulation to force overtime against the Canucks before the Sabres dropped to 1-5-2 over their last eight road games. Buffalo captain Jack Eichel recorded two assists against Vancouver, extending his career-high point streak to 12 games - the longest active run in the NHL - with the 23-year-old recording 10 goals and 12 assists during that span. Edmonton’s top ranked power-play unit (32.2 percent) continued its league-wide dominance Friday as Alex Chiasson and Leon Draisaitl each notched a goal with the man advantage in a 2-1 victory over Los Angeles. Edmonton should get a boost to its lineup Sunday as Zack Kassian (back) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (hand) are expected to return as the club has stayed afloat with a 3-3-0 record during its past six games without the latter.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, MSG Buffalo, Sportsnet West (Edmonton)
ABOUT THE SABRES (13-11-6): Left winger Victor Olofsson added a goal and an assist against the Canucks and sits first among NHL rookies with 12 goals and second in points with 26. Buffalo has allowed 15 power-play goals in its last 16 games and has the league’s second-worst penalty kill (73.6 percent). Forward Kyle Okposo returned after missing 10 games with a concussion and received a tripping penalty during his first shift but redeemed himself by getting the Sabres on the board with a second-period goal.
ABOUT THE OILERS (18-10-3): Goaltender Mikko Koskinen was pulled after allowing three goals on 12 shots during Edmonton’s 5-2 loss to Ottawa on Wednesday but was given an opportunity for a quick bounce back and made 35 saves against the Kings. “It shows that the coaches are trusting me and giving me a chance to go back there after one bad game,” Koskinen told reporters. “It’s always good to shake that off right away.” Draisaitl has the most points in the league having scored 19 goals with 34 helpers and is one point ahead of teammate Connor McDavid, who has the same number of goals with one fewer assist.
1. Buffalo G Carter Hutton is 0-5-4 over his last nine starts after starting the season with six consecutive victories.
2. Edmonton entered Saturday with the NHL's second-ranked penalty kill (86.6).
3. Eichel is on pace for 49 goals and 63 assists, which would crush his career-highs set last season of 28 goals and 54 assists.
PREDICTION: Oilers 6, Sabres 3