Oh my, what a difference.
After the letdown from the home opener a few days ago, the effort the Buffalo Sabres showed last night should get a few doubting Thomas-types to step back from the ledge and take a deep breath.
The Sabres’ marquee signing from free agency Kyle Okposo led the way from the front, and keyed Buffalo to a statement victory without two top-six forwards, Jack Eichel and Evander Kane.
The $42 million forward had the puck in the net on just his first shot and second shift as a Sabre, and then picked up a neat little power-play assist minutes later as Buffalo started fast and jumped into a 2-0 lead.
However, that didn’t last as the curse of the two-goal leads kicked in and the OIlers came roaring back to tie the game.
The Sabres were relentless yesterday, and kept creating chances in the second and third periods. Aided by a horrible night from Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, Ryan O’Reilly scored on a knuckle-puck flick from the Buffalo side of center ice, and then Brian Gionta got his first of two to take the Sabres into the second intermission up 4-2.
There was to be no more comebacks for the Oilers, and Gionta added his second and Matt Moulson also scored his second of the year to put this one to rest.
Coach Dan Bylsma was happy with the forechecking effort that led to the win.
Starting goalie Robin Lehner looked imperious at times and made 31 saves, but will be disappointed with his rebound control which led to both Oilers goals. O’Reilly, marking his 500th NHL game, scored two goals and had two assists on a career night for him. Captain Gionta also got a pair. Okposo had an eye-catching 1G, 1A & +2, Ristolainen had three assists and Sam Reinhart had another good game as well.
It would also be remiss of me to not single out Josh Gorges for special mention. He’s been a favorite whipping boy here on DBTB, but turned in a great performance yesterday neutralizing Connor McDavid physically. The prodigy was buffeted constantly against the boards by the veteran, and was kept off the scoresheet.
Next up are the Calgary Flames tomorrow night.
NB: The official NHL highlights are the home feed unfortunately.
Comment of the Game:
Story updated 9:30am, 10/17/2016