NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, January 3rd (All times Eastern)
Edmonton Oilers (16-19-3) at Buffalo Sabres (17-17-4), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Edmonton Oilers were able to snap a seven-game road losing streak last night, but were left with little to celebrate.
First, the Oilers lost a pair of key players in rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and defenseman Tom Gilbert. With their status unknown, Edmonton faces a quick turnaround on its road trip as it heads to Buffalo looking to best the Sabres tonight for the first time in over eight years.
Playing the fourth test of a seven-game road trip, the Oilers picked up their first victory away from Edmonton since Nov. 25 courtesy of a 4-3 triumph in Chicago. Ben Eager netted the game-winner in a victory that came with a cost.
Nugent-Hopkins, the NHL's leading rookie scorer with 35 points, left due to a shoulder injury suffered on an awkward fall into the boards, while Gilbert was driven face-first into the end boards in the second by Chicago's Daniel Carcillo, who picked up a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct.
Taylor Hall and Ryan Smyth both scored during the long man advantage and Jordan Eberle had a pair of assists to give him eight points over his last seven games.
"Whenever you see a hit like that and there's a five-minute penalty you want to capitalize on it," said Eager. "We were able to score two goals so it turned out to be a big point in the game but you never like to see teammates go down."
Devan Dubnyk made 39 saves -- 22 in the third period -- as Edmonton won for just the second time in nine games overall.
"Wins often do come with a price," said Edmonton head coach Tom Renney. "The guys that are healthy are the guys that'll work to make the difference for us moving forward. We'll assess were we are with the injured fellas and move on."
Renney would love for his team to rally and win against the Sabres for the first time since Oct. 16, 2003. They have lost five straight in this series since, including a pair of trips to Buffalo, where Edmonton hasn't won since March 4, 2002.
The Sabres aren't likely to be waiting with sympathy cards seeing as their 170 man-games lost already this season are 82 more than they had at this point a season ago. Among the seven skaters out for Buffalo, two were high-priced free agent pickups in forward Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff, while young rising stars Tyler Myers and Tyler Ennis are both out as well.
Myers and Ennis did practice on Monday, but aren't expected back for this game.
Buffalo did get center Nathan Gerbe back on Saturday in a 3-2 shootout loss to Ottawa after he had missed the previous 10 games with a concussion.
Brad Boyes snapped a 15-game goal drought in the setback and Paul Gaustad also scored for the Sabres, who have lost three in a row and eight of 10 (2-6-2). Jhonas Enroth stopped a career-high 44 shots to lose in his first start since Dec. 10.
"I think our battle was there but we just came up short," said Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff. "We just have to keep grinding it out and we'll get our wins."
Ruff is likely to go back to Ryan Miller in net tonight. Miller is a perfect 5-0-0 in his career versus the Oilers, posting a 1.40 goals-against average, a key reason that the Sabres have outscored the Oilers 22-7 over their current five-game series win streak.
01/03 10:46:48 ET