Colin Miller scored 1:13 into overtime to give the Buffalo Sabres a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers Sunday night at Rogers Place.
“We came out and we didn’t have the right mindset early on,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said. “I think we thought we got a couple guys back in the lineup and now it’s just going to be free-wheel and pass it into the net. When you don’t compete the right way, when you don’t stop on loose pucks and take care of the puck, it ends up coming back at you.”
The Sabres jumped into the lead 4:08 in when Kyle Okposo tipped a point shot past Mike Smith. Less than seven minutes later, Johan Larsson jumped on a loose puck in front and banged it in.
“We give them two goals and we’ve got to play catch up from there,” Darnell Nurse said. “Our starts have got to be better and we feel like we left one point on the table that we shouldn’t have.”
The Oilers took control of the play in the second period and hit the board when Riley Sheahan scored on a breakaway for his first with the team.
With 4:03 to go in the second, Joakim Nygard tipped a Darnell Nurse shot to make it 2-2. The goal came right at the end of an Oilers power play.
“Against a team like that, you’ve got to stay hard. You’ve got to get pucks to the net and stop on pucks,” Tippett said. “You can’t just wait for them to give it back to you, sometimes you’ve got to go get the puck.”
“We’ve shown we can grind like that for a full 60 minutes, we’ve done it multiple times throughout the year, but it’s got to become something that’s more consistent throughout our game,” Nurse said.
Sabres head coach Ralph Kruger worked for the Oilers from 2010-2013 and used his dismissal as motivation for his team on Sunday night.
“It’s real nice that they know the story, they know the history,” Kruger said. “We’ve got an honest culture in there and we’re just out for each other. It was a beautiful victory, especially because of the character we showed to get it. We came out with a really good start and until about the eight minute mark of the second period we were on track for a solid game. We let it slip, but I love the way the guys recovered in the third period. Of course Edmonton is always dangerous with their weapons but we were able to sustain what ever they threw at us. I’m just real pleased with the guys making that special gesture and yeah, it’s something we’re definitely going to build on.”
“We talked about it in between periods, and this morning and we wanted to get a win for him,” Sabres forward Kyle Okposo said. “We know how much it meant to him. Things didn’t end well here for him and he wouldn’t say it but I know that this game meant a lot to him”
Jimmy Vesey had a breakaway early in the third but fanned on the shot as he tried to deke Smith.
In overtime, Miller took a cross crease pass from Marcus Johansson and slid a shot under Smith.
“Eichel had it and the two-on-one kind of developed,” Miller said. “He made a great play that snuck through and I wasn’t even sure it made it through at the start there, and got lucky that it squeaked in.”
“Puck possession in overtime is a big factor,” Tippett said. “You give it away, you give them a chance.”
“We’ve got to be better. We should be in the front seat against a team like this,” Oscar Klefbom said. “Especially when we’ve been focusing on getting a winning streak going. We’ve been playing good hockey but it’s every other game. Obviously it’s good to bounce back quick and play good hockey against good teams as well, but now it’s a matter of combining some games and getting a winning streak going.”
The Oilers, 18-10-4, will close out their four-game home stand Tuesday against Carolina.
–with files from 630 CHED’s Brenden Escott and Scott Johnston