Oilers look to stay hot against slumping Sabres

National Sports

The high-octane Edmonton Oilers look to continue their sizzling start to the season on Friday night when they visit the Buffalo Sabres.

Leon Draisaitl collected two third-period goals — the tying and go-ahead tallies — to go with an assist while captain Connor McDavid extended his season-opening point streak to 12 games in Edmonton’s 5-3 victory over the host Boston Bruins on Thursday.

Draisaitl, the reigning NHL First Star of the Week, has NHL-best totals in goals (12) and points (26). McDavid has nine and 24, respectively. He also has a point in each of his last 20 regular-season appearances dating back to May 1.

Impressive numbers to be certain, even if Draisaitl said the Oilers’ victory on Thursday was anything but aesthetically pleasing.

“It says a lot about our group that we don’t stop, and we stick with it, even if it’s not pretty,” Draisaitl said. “There are lots of things that we can improve on, that we don’t have to score five goals every game to win.”

Taken at face value, Edmonton has scored at least five goals in eight of its 12 games. One of the Oilers’ four outliers came in the opener of their five-game road trip, a 4-2 setback at the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.

“We competed way harder. We got behind quick but the ability to get it right back — not chase the game — we were pretty strong,” Oilers coach Dave Tippett said. “We don’t want to lose two in a row, so we came out and played well.”

Mikko Koskinen made 26 saves while competing for the ninth time in his last 10 games.

Like Edmonton, Buffalo enjoyed a sterling start to the season. But unlike the Oilers, the Sabres have seen the bottom fall out. After a 5-1-1 beginning to the campaign, Buffalo has lost five straight (0-4-1).

“I think we’ve got to remain confident,” forward Anders Bjork said following Buffalo’s 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals on Monday. “When we’re skating and attacking hard and using our speed, we can stick with any team in this league and create lots of chances.”

Tage Thompson didn’t dent the scoresheet against the Capitals; however, that didn’t diminish his confidence. The 2016 first-round pick has five points (two goals, three assists) in his last seven games and leads the Sabres forwards in average ice time (17:54) on the season.

“Just kind of be a little cocky, a little arrogant,” Thompson said Thursday. “Not, obviously, off the ice, but play with that swagger and that confidence. It’s just something I’ve tried to take into every game. Obviously he’s got a lot of trust in me, he’s been putting me in a lot of opportunities on the ice so I just want to do my part.”

Sabres leading goal scorer Victor Olofsson is expected to miss his fifth straight game since sustaining an undisclosed injury during practice on Nov. 1.

“It basically is an area that’s inflamed and we’re waiting for that to resolve,” coach Don Granato said. “It impedes what he can do, what he can bring to the game.”

–Field Level Media

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