by Anthony Fiorello
Part Two of the Jack Eichel-Connor McDavid rivalry went the Buffalo Sabres’ way on Tuesday night as the Sabres defeated the Oilers 4-3 in overtime.
The victory gives the Sabres their 10th win of the season and puts their record at 10-10-6 through 26 games.
“I thought we played a good, patient game against them,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “You’ve got to win hockey games in a lot of different ways, and tonight we did it by clawing back to tie it up. We came up big after regulation tonight.”
The Sabres struck first on a power play goal by Evander Kane midway through the first period. The goal was Kane’s second of the year, and was assisted by Jake McCabe and Matt Moulson.
Buffalo increased their lead to 2-0 shortly thereafter when captain Brian Gionta crashed the Oilers’ net looking for a rebound. He was assisted by Rasmus Ristolainen and Marcus Foligno.
As much as Buffalo outplayed the Oilers in the first period, the Oilers took over the second. A power play goal by Jordan Eberle put the Oilers on the board as he tapped in a rebound during a scrum in front of the net. Eberle was assisted by Drake Caggiula and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Additionally, a challenge by Bylsma was made claiming that there was goaltender interference on the play, but the officials determined there was none.
Less than two minutes later, the Oilers tied the game on a goal by Milan Lucic which was assisted by McDavid and Caggiula. The two goals capped off a period in which the Oilers outshot the Sabres 14-5 after a first period of play where Buffalo had 10 shots on goal compared to Edmonton’s five.
The Oilers continued to carry that momentum into the third period without defenseman Mark Fayne, who was lost for the game with an injury. With the team down by a rearguard, Edmonton took a 3-2 lead with their second goal on the man-advantage by Leon Draisaitl. McDavid was credited with his second assist of the game and former Sabre Andrej Sekera had a helper of his own.
However, the Sabres wouldn’t go quietly. Kane tied the contest by burying a rebound off of a shot by Ryan O’Reilly – his second goal of the game – with just 28.3 seconds remaining in the period.
“We had six guys obviously battling hard,” Kane said. “We got a good puck to the net and bounce, and I was able to put it away.”
A few seconds later, Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson took a holding penalty which gave the Sabres a crucial power play heading into overtime. With the extra man, Ristolainen took advantage by scoring the game-winner off of a one-timer that handcuffed Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot just 57 seconds into the overtime period.
“It was maybe the loudest one I’ve heard go off the post and in,” Byslma said. “(Ristolainen’s) been carrying the load for us back there with continued injuries… It’s so nice to see Risto get that goal.”
Ristolainen finished the contest with a goal and two assists.
“It was about time,” Ristolainen said. “There’s been some really good chances, but you can’t get frustrated. Just try to keep it simple, get pucks to the net and some day it’s going to go in. Tonight was the time.”
Sabres goaltender Anders Nilsson finished the game with 34 saves on 37 shots, while Talbot had 22 saves on 26 shots.