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Three Observations: Sabres hold off Oilers for 3-2 win

Oilers Sabres Hockey
Posted at 9:40 PM, Nov 12, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Sabres' five-game skid came to an end in a nail-biter at KeyBank Center on Friday. After falling behind in the second period, Buffalo came away with a 3-2 win over the Oilers.

Leon Draisaitl scored both Edmonton goals, while Dylan Cozens scored two of his own for his first career multi-goal NHL game. At the other end, Dustin Tokarski made 33 saves. Buffalo is back at home on Saturday to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Three observations from Friday's game:

Clutch Kills

Star power drives the power play. And there are very few, if any, NHL teams with more star power than the Oilers. So far this season, Edmonton leads the league with a 44% conversion rate on their power plays. That's nearly 10 percent more than second place.

And yet, the Sabres' penalty kill largely kept that unit quiet, especially in the first period. Some of the penalties, like Mark Pysyk's on the all-out scramble in front, were smart ones. The veteran defenseman essentially saved a goal by taking a penalty and heading to the sin bin. That's certainly something Buffalo can afford.

Because the Sabres' units both up and down a man are among the league's best, as well. Buffalo is killing 87% of their penalties and converting 25% of their power plays. It's not otherworldly like Edmonton, but it's nothing to sneeze at, either.

Staying in the game

The Oilers eventually broke through. With a power play that's scoring at an unprecedented rate, it's something that you have to bank on when you face Edmonton. When Leon Draisaitl scored his second goal of the game, Buffalo could've folded like a lawn chair.

But they didn't.

It's hard to win the shot count when you're short a skate as often as the Sabres were on Saturday. But they continued to press out in their own end and press hard on the forecheck. The Sabres stayed pesky, stayed level headed, and stayed in the game when they trailed in the second period.

Speed... I am speed

Ka-chow. It's time to talk about the wheels these Sabres have. Every goal tonight was a product of speed and hustle. Whether it was Anders Bjork in all alone, Dylan Cozens creating separation, or Cozens follow a Hinostroza breakaway, the Sabres were the faster team tonight.

Especially in the third period, the relatively even roll-out of all four lines plays to the Sabres' advantage. Connor McDavid probably played more minutes in two periods (think about all of those Oiler power plays) than most of the blue and gold played across all three periods.

There isn't a player on this team that's worthy of McDavid-caliber minutes. But no matter who Buffalo sent out there, they had fresher legs than Edmonton's superstars. It's a testament to the philosophy, and it's a testament to how the Sabres practice as well.