NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, December 28th (All times eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (14-18-4) at Edmonton Oilers (12-16-6), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Hoping to avoid losing three straight for the first time in nearly two months, the Buffalo Sabres will try to pick up a fifth victory in a row over the Edmonton Oilers in tonight's meeting at Rexall Place.
The Sabres have dropped two straight and four of their last five, putting them in position to lose three consecutive games for the first time since a five- game drought from Oct. 26-Nov. 5. They were dealt a 5-2 setback in Calgary last night for their fourth road loss in a row.
Drew Stafford and Patrick Kaleta scored the goals and Ryan Miller made 28 saves for the Sabres.
"We got the lead and the next 40 minutes it was just poor decisions on our part," said Buffalo center Jochen Hecht. "We just have to focus and do our job out there."
The Sabres played without leading scorer Derek Roy and defenseman Tyler Myers on Monday. Roy is out for the season with a torn left quadriceps, while Myers sat out last night's game with flu-like symptoms.
Buffalo has done well over Edmonton as of late, having not lost to the club since Oct. 16, 2003 in western Canada. Behind a hat trick from Stafford, the Sabres blew out the Oilers, 10-2, in their last meeting at Rexall Place on Jan. 27, 2009. Stafford also had a goal in last season's more modest 3-1 home victory.
Miller has been in net for each game of the Sabres' current four-game win streak over the Oilers, posting a 1.25 goals-against average.
The Oilers return home for five in a row after going 0-2-1 on a recent road trip. Edmonton failed to salvage the finale of the swing on Sunday, losing 3-2 in Vancouver.
The Canucks got their first tally of the game with 46 seconds left in the second period on the way to three unanswered goals. Kevin Bieksa sent Edmonton out of town with a loss on his game-winning goal with 24 seconds left in regulation.
"That goal we gave up at the end of the second was a tough goal to give up," Edmonton's Ray Whitney said. "You can't give up odd-man rushes like that. The level is there for us, we just have to start getting wins."
Whitney scored and Ryan O'Marra added his first NHL goal for the Oilers, who have lost five of their last six. Nikolai Khabibulin made 30 saves in defeat.
Though defenseman Tom Gilbert is day-to-day after suffering a left knee injury on Sunday, forward Ales Hemsky could return to the lineup for the Oilers tonight. Hemsky has 18 points in 21 games, but hasn't played since Dec. 1 due to a groin injury.
Hemsky has two goals and three assists in five career games versus the Sabres, while Khabibulin is 5-7-0 with three ties and a 2.11 GAA when facing them.
12/28 11:13:35 ET