The disappointing Edmonton Oilers hope to build some momentum after their last performance when they visit the struggling Buffalo Sabres on Friday night. Edmonton, a preseason Stanley Cup pick by many which currently sits second-to-last in the Western Conference, snapped a three-game slide with an impressive 6-2 victory at Detroit on Wednesday.
“Everybody came here with something to prove, a chip on their shoulder, and it showed up,” Oilers center Mark Letestu told reporters Wednesday. “I guess we’ll answer the question about whether we can do it for more than one night, next game. There’s been a lot of lip service that this is the one that can change things, but we have to show up Friday in Buffalo.” Connor McDavid boasts nine of his team-leading 28 points in the last five games for Edmonton, which will face a Sabres team that has dropped seven straight contests (0-5-2). Buffalo managed one goal in four of those outings and the defense had a rough night Wednesday in a 5-4 setback against Minnesota. “We’ve got to figure it out,” Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella told the Buffalo News. “We’re going to need more pride in this locker room. The only way to get out of this is if we work together and find a way to show up to the rink and give 100 percent effort every single night.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Ontario, Sportsnet West (Edmonton), MSG Buffalo
ABOUT THE OILERS (8-12-2): Edmonton received three goals from its bottom six forwards Wednesday and sixth defenseman Yohann Auvitu notched his first career two-point game. “We needed (McDavid) and Leon (Draisaitl) but they didn’t have to score two or three to win,” coach Todd McLellan told reporters. “When your secondary level of player is contributing offensively, you have a good chance to win.” Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each have five points in their last five games to push their totals to 17 - tied for second on the team.
ABOUT THE SABRES (5-13-4): Buffalo could get their top defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (upper-body) back in the lineup for the first time since Nov. 2 soon and fellow blue liner Zach Bogosian (lower-body) has begun skating. “I told everyone I’m ready. It’s up to them when I will be back,” Ristolainen told the Buffalo News. “It’s been real hard. You can’t help your teammates and you see we’ve had some tough games and tough weeks there.” Left wing Evander Kane has two goals and an assist in the last three games to push his team-leading total to 21 points - three better than Jack Eichel.
1. Buffalo F Sam Reinhart recorded a goal in each of the last two games to increase his season total to five.
2. Edmonton is 6-for-13 on the power play over the last seven games and Buffalo is scoreless on 10 opportunites the past four.
3. The Sabres won both matchups last season, scoring 10 goals and allowing five combined.
PREDICTION: Oilers 4, Sabres 2