Score: Sabres 4 | Oilers 2
Shots: BUF 24 | EDM 48
Buffalo Sabres Goals: Rasmus Dahlin, Tage Thompson, JJ Peterka, Alex Tuch
Edmonton Oilers Goals: Darnell Nurse, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Plus 1: Lyu-BOOM-Shkin
The first period was a showcase of how fast the Oilers transition from offense to defense. The Sabres were unable to slow down Edmonton’s forwards who were able to generate speed in the neutral zone and put immense pressure on the retreating Buffalo defense. Ilya Lyubushkin finally had an answer. Just as Holloway was gearing up to attack Buffalo’s side of center, Lyubushkin leveled him with a perfectly timed open ice hit. This was easily the hardest hit by a Sabre since Jake McCabe dropped Patrik Laine in 2017 and not only resulted in a Sabres powerplay, but it also generated some momentum for a team that found itself on its heels by the relentless Oilers attack. After the hit, Edmonton’s forwards were less comfortable flying full speed through the neutral zone, and it allowed Sabres defenders to keep closer gaps and limit rush chances against. Unfortunately, Lyubushkin left the game after blocking a shot in the second period. Hopefully it’s not a long-term issue.
Minus 1: 3rd Period Shell
It never ceases to amaze that NHL teams will earn leads in a game by playing a certain way only to completely abandon what made them successful to protect the lead. There is something to be said of playing responsibly to avoid costly mistakes. However, playing not to lose is a great way to squander leads and concede momentum. Eventually, this passive style of play will backfire. One way it can be successful is with great goaltending. Speaking of which…
Plus 2: Calm, Cool, Collected, Comrie
The Sabres have been seeking a consistent goaltending tandem for a very long time. They may have finally found a tandem that provides quality goaltending on a nightly basis. Craig Anderson proved he still has some game left with a stellar performance in the opener, but tonight was Comrie’s time to shine. He played well against a very strong Panthers team on Saturday and continued with an excellent performance in Edmonton. At times, Buffalo looked overwhelmed by the Oilers’ potent offense, but Comrie was able to provide timely saves to prevent the Sabres from crumbling under the pressure. He stopped 46 of 48 shots with many highlight reel saves mixed in. Sometimes, all a player needs is an opportunity to prove himself. After playing in Hellebuyck shadow in Winnipeg, Comrie finally has a chance to establish himself as a quality NHL netminder. Look for him to get at least an even share of starts this season if he continues to provide excellent goaltending.
Eric Comrie stole this one for Buffalo as they pick up their first road win of the season. The Oilers looked dangerous offensively all night but goaltending and timely blocks by Sabres’ defenders were able to keep Edmonton at bay. Even while getting outplayed for stretches of time, Buffalo played a more cohesive and structured game than either of their first two games. It’s hard to recapture the chemistry found at the end of a season, but this Sabres team looks poised to turn their strong finish, into an exciting season. Their current west coast trip could become a catalyst for a very important season in Buffalo.