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Edmonton Oilers pull away from Buffalo Sabres for 8-3 win

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Connor McDavid had four assists as the Edmonton Oilers beat the Buffalo Sabres 8-3 Thursday night at Rogers Place.

“We’re finding ways to get wins. I’d still like to see a little bit more control of games,” McDavid said as he reflected on the game. “I still think we’re finding our game.

“Obviously it’s nice that we’re winning, but I still think that there’s more there.”

The Sabres took the lead 1:38 into the evening when J.J. Peterka found himself alone in front and snapped a shot past Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner.

Rasmus Dahlin beat Skinner later in the period but the goal was negated after the Oilers successfully challenged for offside. Sabres forward Victor Olofsson would get one that counted on a long wrist shot.

The Oilers struck late in the first when Leon Draisaitl muscled a shot on the power play through Sabres netminder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen for his 35th of the season.

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“After the first period, I know the players discussed among themselves about it not being good enough,” Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch revealed after the game.

“Not moving our feet fast enough, not finishing enough checks, not making the simple play — just the little things, and everyone elevated their game.”

Oilers defenceman Mattias Ekholm deployed a nifty toe drag and popped in his sixth to make it 2-2 early in the second.

“Any defenceman that can skate like (Ekholm) can be really dangerous jumping into the rush,” McDavid said.

Peterka earned his second of the night when his flubbed shot fooled Skinner.

In the last minute of the second, Ekholm’s lobbed point shot ticked off Oilers forward Zach Hyman on the way in to even it 3-3. It was Hyman’s 47th of the season.

“He was solid again. He did his thing at the net and finds a way to score a big goal at the end of the period,” McDavid said of Hyman. “That’s a massive goal — it really is.

Darnell Nurse gave the Oilers their first lead of the night when his point shot skittered through Luukkonen with 15:22 left in the third.

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Just 1:02 later, Draisaitl sent a behind-the-back pass to Ekholm, who pulverized his second of the game past Luukkonen’s glove.

“That was served on a golden platter there, right? I can’t ask for more than that,” Ekholm said. “The shot was good as well, but the setup was unbelievable.”

“He’s got one of the heavier slapshots I think you’ll see,” Hyman said of the Swedish defenceman.

McDavid set up Hyman for his 48th with 4:42 to go. Ryan McLeod scored on a two-on-one. Connor Brown deposited a rebound for his second of the season with nine seconds left.

McDavid is up to 86 assists as he strives to become just the fourth player in NHL history to have 100 assists in a season.

“I’d never count anything out with Connor,” Knoblauch said.

The Oilers (42-21-4) will visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. You can listen to the game live on 630 CHED, beginning with The Faceoff Show at 3:30 p.m. The actual game starts at 5 p.m.

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