The Oilers came into Buffalo on difficult circumstances, having played the night before in Boston. But Coach Eakins felt that the team managed to put all that aside to play a very good game, with a 3-2 win and 52 shots on goal.
"Sometimes these things don’t set up very well. You’ve lost a few in a row and you’re coming in to play a team that’s struggling and you’re playing back-to-back," Eakins began. "The odds aren’t lining up very well for you. But I thought our guys were excellent tonight. I thought that not only did they play well, they had great energy on the bench when we got down. They all took a deep breath and got back to work."
Over Thursday and Friday's games, the Oilers were pushed to the max physically but still managed to pull through in the third period with a big come-from-behind win.
"Our fitness levels were tested tonight. The guys have done an excellent job over the past year — through the summer — to prepare for games like this," said Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins. "It certainly paid off tonight because we were able to keep the pace high with very little let-up."
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Benoit Pouliot, for example, each played well over 40 minutes of hockey over the two nights. Nugent-Hopkins had almost 24 minutes on Thursday and played nearly 18 minutes Friday. He was 59% on face-offs with three hits and five shots on goal to help lead the Oilers to the win.
Goaltender Viktor Fasth led the Oilers onto the ice for pre-game warm-ups and will start in goal against the Sabres.
All seven defencemen on the roster are taking warm-up: Klefbom, Marincin, Schultz, Aulie, Petry, Fayne and Nikitin.
The defence pairings will be:
Up front, Pakarinen and Yakupov swap:
Marincin in Klefbom out. D: 86-2, 22-5, 85-19, Fasth starts— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) November 7, 2014
With four straight losses and still searching for their first win of the season on the road, the Oilers have been trying to look at the positives in their play the last few games. Jordan Eberle commented that getting a win tonight would go a long way to getting a good feeling back in the room.
“It’s definitely been an up-and-down season with the start, then winning the next four then losing the next four," Eberle noted. "It’s been a bit of a roller coaster. I think a win could do everything. It always changes things.”
Keith Aulie, a newcomer to the squad, said he didn't feel that the team was getting down on itself.
“It’s those moments of adversity that you can really see what a team’s made of. I’ve been on teams before where guys hang their heads and get really frustrated. I didn’t see that last night. It’s just a tough moment. You’ve got to learn from those experiences and move on.”
The tendency could be for a team in the Oilers situation (four straight losses) to relax with a team like the Buffalo Sabres (30th in the NHL) coming up, but the team is coming into tonight's game knowing that the Sabres are going to be a tough out.
“They’re not playing their best hockey and I think we need to capitalize on that. And if we play the way we did last night against Boston we’re going to have a lot of chances out there. If we bring the same intensity and will as we did yesterday, we’re going to be fine tonight for sure,” said Benoit Pouliot.
The Sabres are 3-9-1 but have picked up points in each of their last two games and three of their last four, including a win over the Detroit Red Wings in that span.
“We’ve got to play that sense of urgency. We’ve got to expect them to play their best game of the season. Our mindset needs to be to play hard and play a smart game. We need to play with a little more urgency,” Oilers centre Boyd Gordon remarked.
Jordan Eberle stressed that anyone in the NHL can win if you don't come in prepared.
“It’s the NHL. You’ve got to find ways to win hockey games. Any team can beat any team at any time. That’s the best part of this league, every team’s great.
Will Acton has cleared waivers and is assigned to the Oklahoma City Barons.
Iiro Pakarinen is wearing the number 62.
Ben Scrivens gets the start in goal.
Oiler lines at BOS: Pouliot-RNH-Eberle. Pakarinen-Arco-Perron, Purcell-Draisaitl-Yak. Hendricks-Gordon-Joensuu.— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) November 6, 2014
The Oilers have recalled forward Iiro Pakarinen from the Oklahoma City Barons.
Pakarinen has five goals and eight assists in seven games with a +5 rating in OKC.
To make room on the 23-man roster for Pakarinen, the Oilers assigned Martin Marincin to the Barons.
Oilers recall forward Iiro Pakarinen from Oklahoma City; Assign defenceman Martin Marincin to the Barons.— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) November 6, 2014
- WEEKLY PANEL | Presented by Sport Chek
- PRACTICE | Wednesday's storylines
- RAW | Dallas Eakins
- RAW | Teddy Purcell
- RAW | Jesse Joensuu
"Marty won't play tomorrow," he said. "Keith's going in. We're looking for some grit, and not just out of Keith. It's got to come from everybody on our team -- but especially our back-end.
"There's going to be some real competition going on for icetime, especially with Oscar coming in and playing the way he did."