Preview: Oilers vs. Sabres
BUFFALO SABRES (24-18-5) at
EDMONTON OILERS (24-19-3)
Start Time: 7:08 p.m. MST
Television: Rogers Sportsnet West (HD)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Today's Game Notes | Oilers/Sabres Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison
|Buffalo's Thomas Vanek chases down Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid during the 2007 NHL YoungStars Game. Photo: Getty Images
LINEUP UPDATES: Sam Gagner is very doubtful for tonight's game. He did not take the morning skate and Andrew Cogliano took his spot on the second line between Erik Cole and Robert Nilsson... Liam Reddox slots into centre on line three between Moreau and Pouliot... Zack Stortini will be a gametime decision but Steve MacIntyre is likely to draw in on the fourth line... Dwayne Roloson gets the start in goal.
by Nick Conrad | edmontonoilers.com
|THE ESSENTIALS FOR TONIGHT
While the majority of Oilers were resting their bumps and bruises over the weeklong All-Star break, two of the Copper and Blue were making their mark on the 2009 NHL All-Star festivities.
Edmonton’s All-Star representatives Andrew Cogliano
and Sheldon Souray
both managed to grab a ray of spotlight: Cogliano won the Fastest Skater event and Souray notched two goals in the East vs. West main event. With the All-Star game over with, the Edmonton Oilers can get back to what they were doing before the break—winning hockey games.
Tonight, the Oilers (24-19-3) will face the Buffalo Sabres (24-18-5) and try to restart the momentum that was cut short for the All-Star break. Edmonton had won three straight and seven of their last 10 games capped off by a dramatic third period come-from-behind win over Columbus on Jan. 20.
The Sabres have also won seven of their last 10 games but suffered a 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in their last game on Jan. 21.
Tonight’s game is the third of a six-game homestand for the Oilers on which they’ve gone 2-0 so far. The Minnesota Wild come to town on Friday for the Oilers and Wild’s second meeting of the season.
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH: Ales Hemsky
has been electric since returning from a concussion that led to 10 missed games. He has four goals and six points in his last two games and has scored two goals and two assists in three games vs. Buffalo...Sheldon Souray
scored a pair at the All-Star game but hasn’t potted a goal for the Oilers since Jan. 3. He’s got four goals and nine assists in 35 games vs. the Sabres...Erik Cole has only one point in four games since his hattrick and will be looking to get back on the scoresheet. HE has five goals and seven assists in 19 games vs. Buffalo.
SABRES TO WATCH:
Thomas Vanek is tied for third in the league with 28 goals. He leads the Sabres in snipes and is second in points with 43...Derek Roy leads the Sabres with 43 points and scored two goals in his last game...Ryan Miller has given up only two goals in two career games vs. the Oilers and has a 2-0 record and .961 save percentage.
(ankle) is doubtful. Zack Stortini
(strained knee) is questionable. Fernando Pisani (ankle) is out. Buffalo—Maxim Afinogenov (groin) is out; Patrick Kaleta (strained neck) is out.
The Oilers are on a season-high three-game home winning streak in progress as they are 3-0-0 at Rexall Place from Jan. 11-20 with wins vs. St. Louis (W. 2-1, Jan. 11), vs. Phoenix (W. 6-3; Jan. 18) and vs. Columbus (W. 4-3; Jan. 20)...the win vs. Columbus on Jan. 20th moved the Oilers to five games over .500 at 24-19-3, marking the most games above .500 for the Oilers this season…Ales Hemsky
equalled a career-high with four points (2-2-4) in the Oilers 4-3 win vs. Columbus (Jan. 20)… Oilers assistant captain Steve Staios played his 800th career NHL game vs. Minnesota (Jan. 15). He’s scored 35-97-132 in 803 career NHL games since making his NHL debut with Boston in 1995-96.
Oilers recall Liam Reddox from Springfield
- General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Edmonton Oilers have recalled left winger Liam Reddox
from the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League. ...more
The Other Side - news from www.sabres.com
- Portland Report: 1/26/09 - On Friday night, Jhonas Enroth made his sixth consecutive start and stopped all 29 shots to earn his 3rd shutout of the of the season in a 1-0 win over Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Portland is currently second in their division at 24-18-1. ...more
- All-Star Q & A with Thomas Vanek - Buffalo Sabres' forward Thomas Vanek was selected to the 2009 NHL All-Star Game. The winger sat down with Sabres.com for an exclusive interview about the trip to Montreal. ...more
Odds and Ends
- 5 Questions with Fernando Pisani - We recently sat down with Fernando Pisani and drilled him with five hard-hitting questions, including asking him to name his favourite local restaurant as well as the best part of playing pro hockey. ...more
- Bid on the Oilers' Favourite Things - Ever wonder what Jason Strudwick’s favourite BBQ is? Or what Tom Gilbert’s favourite movie is? With the Oilers Favourite Things you can find out - and you can bid on the items starting at Tuesday night's game. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
The Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers both entered the All-Star break playing solid hockey and occupying playoff positions in their respective conferences.
Only one of them will be able to win their first game after the break, as the clubs meet for the first time in nearly two years Tuesday night in Edmonton.
The Sabres (24-18-5) and Oilers (24-19-3) both missed last postseason, but they now sport nearly identical winning records and would make the playoffs if the season ended now. Buffalo is seventh in the Eastern Conference with 53 points, while Edmonton's 51 points entering the break were good enough for sixth in the West.
The Oilers entered the break in particularly impressive fashion with three straight victories and five in six games. They now have a chance for their first four-game winning streak since opening the season by winning four in a row.
Ales Hemsky's return to the lineup has given Edmonton a lift. The right wing, whose 41 points lead the Oilers, has six in two games since missing 10 contests due to a concussion. He had two goals and two assists last Tuesday to send Edmonton into the break with a 4-3 home victory over Columbus.
"When you have four points or something like that you are always asked if it is the best game in your career," Hemsky said. "For me every game we win is what I feel good about. I just want to go out there and do my part. It felt great to win the game. It's a great feeling in this room right now."
Hemsky has only faced Buffalo three times in his career but has at least one point in each of those games, totaling two goals and two assists. He assisted on Edmonton's only goal the last time these teams met, as the Oilers fell 2-1 in overtime at Buffalo on Feb. 15, 2007.
Ryan Miller, who made 27 saves for the Sabres to earn that win, enjoyed a strong first half to 2008-09. The sixth-year netminder is 22-12-4 with a career-high .916 save percentage, and has already tied his career best with three shutouts.
Miller, though, suffered through one of his worst nights of the season in Buffalo's final game before the break. He allowed five goals on 26 shots as the Sabres fell 5-3 at Tampa Bay.
Derek Roy scored two goals in the defeat, giving him seven goals and 13 points in 10 games since the New Year.
Roy has surged into the team lead with 44 points, but left wing Thomas Vanek was Buffalo's lone All-Star representative thanks to his 28 goals - most on the team and tied for third in the league. Though he didn't register a point in the game, he told the Sabres' official Web site he enjoyed the experience.
"It's awesome," Vanek said. "A few of the other guys probably deserved to go, but I was fortunate enough to be picked and represent my teammates and the Buffalo organization."
This is the third of six straight road games for the Sabres, who have not played at home since Jan. 17 and won't do so again until a Feb. 4 matchup with Toronto.