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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

Mar 20, 2024 8:50 pm

Back on track, Oilers out to avenge loss to Sabres

Evan Bouchard

After a middling February, the Edmonton Oilers are back on a roll in March and look to keep it going when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.

Edmonton (41-21-4, 86 points) is 6-1-2 through March, matching their win total from the previous month, in which they went 6-5-1. Last month marked their fewest wins since winning only twice in October.

The Oilers’ success in March has allowed them to climb into second place in the Pacific Division. Entering Wednesday, they were five points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings, who are third, and seven points clear of the second wild card, occupied by the Vegas Golden Knights.

Most recently, the Oilers are coming off a 3-2 overtime win against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, a game in which Edmonton saw its 2-0 lead erased before Leon Draisaitl secured the victory.

That extended the Oilers’ point streak to five games (3-0-2), a stretch that began with their 3-2 shootout loss to the host Sabres (33-32-5, 71 points) on March 9.

“In the past, we’ve found ways to lose those games,” Draisaitl said. “We would kind of let the frustration sink in a little bit. We’ll take the two points, but obviously there is lots to do better.”

One of those that they’ve lost was the contest against the Sabres. Edmonton went up 2-0 early and led 2-1 after the first period before Buffalo rallied.

Defenseman Evan Bouchard continues to enjoy a career season. The 24-year-old has five points — all assists — in a four-game point streak, and his 65 points (15 goals, 50 assists in 66 games) are tied for fifth among all NHL defensemen.

“Steady improvement for him every year,” forward Zach Hyman said. “I think this year he’s really taken that next leap into the upper echelon of two-way defensemen.”

The Sabres, meanwhile, aim to bounce back after a 3-2 road loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. Buffalo trailed 2-0 before cutting the deficit to a goal each time, courtesy of defenseman Rasmus Dahlin.

The setback, combined with a Detroit Red Wings victory, pushed Buffalo to five points back of the second wild card from the Eastern Conference entering Wednesday. But they don’t plan on giving up any time soon.

“No chance,” Dahlin said. “… We are still in it, and we are going to work our ass off until the end.”

Dahlin’s two tallies against Vancouver brought him to 17 on the season in 69 games, eclipsing his career high of 15 set a season ago in 78 games. The total is tied for second among NHL defensemen, one behind Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators. It’s the highest single-season total by a Buffalo blueliner since Phil Housley scored 21 back in 1989-90.

Dahlin is also the third defenseman in franchise history to score at least 17 goals, after Housley (who accomplished the feat six times) and John Van Boxmeer.

The Sabres are 4-2-0 in their past six, a stretch that began with their win against Edmonton.

–Field Level Media

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