"Just win baby" - Al Davis
It wasn't pretty -- but at the end of the day the Buffalo Sabres are back to .500 (10-10-6) with a 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers. With less than a minute left the Sabres found themselves down 3-2 but thanks to some late game heroics from Evander Kane the game went into overtime. Seconds later Marcus Foligno drew a hooking penalty giving the Sabres a power play as they went into overtime. Rasmus Ristolainen made the Oilers pay, with an absolute laser from the point to give the Sabres the win.
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) December 7, 2016
Five observations from tonight's matchup:
McDavid vs. Eichel: Round 2
The first round went to Connor McDavid and the Oilers. The second round however, goes to Jack Eichel and the Sabres.
Don't get me wrong, Eichel looked pretty good tonight and had several quality chances, but Connor McDavid is a magician.
In fact, I’m ready to anoint Connor McDavid the most dynamic player in the NHL. It’s amazing how talented he is and how he somehow gets faster with the puck on his stick. Just one minute into the game he streaked down the boards and cut in on Anders Nilsson. The minute he touched the puck I thought it was going in. It didn’t, but he certainly reminded Sabres fans just how unbelievable he is.
Here's a crazy stat for you -- McDavid has never gone three consecutive games without scoring a point. That was bad news for the Sabres because McDavid hadn’t scored in the Oilers' last two games. Wouldn’t you know, he was the one who slid a perfect pass to Milan Lucic for Edmonton’s game tying goal.
Seriously, McDavid is outstanding. If you’re a hockey fan you should make it a point to see him play live at some point during his career -- but also be thankful that you get to see Eichel every game. While he hasn't been as explosive in their first two matchup's, he is certainly an incredible player in his own right.
Kane redeems himself late
Don't look now, but Evander Kane has three goals in three games, including two Tuesday night. Kane was able to tie the game when it mattered most -- with 28 seconds left parked in front of the net. Like every hockey fan learned in 'The Mighty Ducks,' you have to clean up the garbage in front of the net, something the Sabres didn't do on Monday against the Capitals.
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) December 7, 2016
But it wasn't all rainbows and butterflies for Kane. Although he scored two goals he also took a bonehead penalty late in the third period with the game on the line. The Oilers scored while Kane was in the box and took a 3-2 lead with just minutes left in the third period. These things happen, but Kane was also the recipient of a costly penalty on Monday night against the Capitals. They also scored with Kane in the box to tie the game, once again late in the third period.
Ristolainen proving his worth
This should explain it all:
— NHL (@NHL) December 7, 2016
But aside from the goal, Ristolainen also had two assists and lead the team with 29:58 in ice-time. The 21-year-old defenseman now has a team-leading 15 assists and is just one point behind the team leader Kyle Okposo (17).
I think we can all agree that Ristolainen's contract looks better and better every single day.
Hot & Cold
1st period — The Sabres dominated early and jumped out to a 2-0 lead, at one point outshooting the Oilers 10-2. That dominance didn’t last long, and by the end of the first the Sabres found themselves lucky to get out with a two-goal lead.
2nd period — This was one of the Sabres' worst periods of the season. Edmonton came charging back, scoring their first and then the tying goal minutes apart. Buffalo took a few dumb penalties, made some sloppy plays and failed to generate any offensive pressure. Somehow, the Sabres were able to escape the period tied.
3rd period — The third period was filled with ups and downs, but in the end, despite getting out-shot 18-9, the Sabres found a way to tie the game with 28 seconds left on the clock. Not how you draw things up, but sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.
In 2015-2016 Brian Gionta had 12 goals. This year he has six in just 25 games. For those you who didn’t major in math, that puts him on pace to score 20 this season.
I don’t know if anyone would’ve thought that before the season — but he’s had quite the bounce-back. Will he get to 20? Probably not, but Sabres fans should be happy if he gets 15. The Foligno-Larsson-Gionta line has been very consistent this season and Gionta has been a major reason why.
*Bonus observation: Foligno 'Flexin*
He won't end up on the score-sheet, but Foligno drew a huge penalty with 20 seconds left in the third period to give the Sabres a man advantage heading into overtime.
However, Foligno did earn an assist tonight on a beautiful pass to Gionta.