BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 03: Drew Stafford #21, Derek Roy #9 and Nathan Gerbe #42 of the Buffalo Sabres celebrate Stafford's goal in the third period against the Edmonton Oilers at First Niagara Center on January 3, 2012 in Buffalo, New York. Buffalo won 4-3. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
The Buffalo Sabres started 2012 with a win over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night, but for the longest time it didn't seem like much changed. Two late third period goals pushed the Sabres to a 4-3 victory to give the Sabres their first regulation in the last five games.
It started really slow for the Sabres as the Oilers got the jump out of the gate. Taylor Hall scored the game's first goal at the ten minute mark of the first period as he rifled a shot over the glove of Ryan Miller. That goal culminated a ten minute portion of the period that saw the Oilers outshoot the Sabres 12-2. The Sabres did find something in the period and Jason Pominville was able to tie the game up six minutes later as he beat Nikolai Khabibulin on the blocker side. The Sabres were able to close the shot gap and finished the period being outshot 14-8.
The second period saw Jordan Leopold score early in the period and Sam Gagner score on a five on three power play. Other than that, it was a rather quiet period for both teams. The Sabres managed to outshoot the Oilers 12-5 and the fatigue factor started to set in for the Oilers after they arrived into Buffalo late on Tuesday morning.
The aforementioned third period saw the Sabres finally be able to convert on some late chances. Drew Stafford pounced on a loose puck in front of the net, one that Derek Roy was able to corral and get in front of the net. Two minutes later, Nathan Gerbe scored on a breakaway that was started by Drew Stafford in the defensive zone. The Oilers did get a goal from Corey Potter late in the third period, but that wasn't enough to register the win.
More player specific thoughts and the actual highlights after the jump.
- Ryan Miller did not look spectacular during this game. On two of the three goals he allowed, the shots were shot over his glove and the third goal he was just grossly out of position. Whether Miller has lost a little of that reaction time this season or something else is going on, but Miller has looked this pedestrian all season.
- The Derek Roy/Drew Stafford/Nathan Gerbe line looked solid tonight with Drew Stafford leading the line with three points on Tuesday night. It's only the second time this season that Stafford registered three points in a game, the other coming on November 11th against the Ottawa Senators. It was the New Year's Day game against the Boston Bruins that jump started the second half of his season last year and maybe this game is the spark that is needed for Stafford's game this year.
- Zack Kassian was back in the lineup, replacing Cody McCormick who was a healthy scratch. Kassian registered three shots on goal and one giveaway in the 11:25 of ice time that he did get. Kassian hasn't registered a point since December 16th against the Toronto Maple Leafs and when this roster gets healthier, it is probably time to send him back down to Rochester.