The Buffalo Sabres picked up two goals in the final five minutes to break a 2-2 tie then held on to defeat the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo on Tuesday night.
Ales Hemsky picked up two assists while Sam Gagner had a goal and an assist to help lead the way for the visitors.
The Oilers opened with some very different line combinations. Sam Gagner was down the middle with Taylor Hall on the left and Ales Hemsky on the right. Anton Lander played down the middle between Ryan Smyth and Jordan Eberle while Josh Green centered Teemu Hartikainen and Shawn Horcoff. The fourth line was Ryan Jones with Eric Belanger and Ben Eager.
Jordan Eberle was tripped up behind the Sabres net by Mike Weber 5:26 into the opening frame, puting Edmonton on the power play.
The Oilers had two great chances on the ensuing man advantage. Eberle spun and fired the puck from the slot that was denied by Sabres netminder Ryan Miller. Moments later as the penalty was about to expire, Eberle had a great chance with Miller down and out but could not jam it past the Buffalo goalie.
With 9:27 to play, Taylor Hall struck to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead. Hall blazed down the left side and fired a wrister from the left faceoff dot behind Miller for the goal.
Shots on goal 11 minutes into the game were 12 to 2 for the Oilers.
The Sabres started to pick up their game as the period went on, eventually resulting in the tying marker as Jason Pominville wired a shot from the right side boards off the bar and in behind Khabibulin.
After the opening period, the Oilers had a 14 to 8 edge in shots but the game was tied at 1-1.
Buffalo took a 2-1 lead 5:10 into the middle frame as Jordan Leopold pinched in to fire a blast from the left circle past Khabibulin.
Moments later, the Oilers looked to have taken the lead after Corey Potter blasted a point shot into the back of the net. However, Referee Don Van Massenhoven ruled that Ales Hemsky interfered with Miller in front and not only called off the goal, gave Hemsky two minutes for his efforts. A closer look at the replay showed Hemsky barely made contact with the Sabres netminder.
With 11:56 to play, Patrick Kaleta took a run at Ladislav Smid. He received a penalty for charging as a result, giving Edmonton the power play. 1:06 into the man advantage, the Sabres got a second penalty -- for having too many men on the ice. The result was a five-on-three power play for 54 seconds for the Oil.
It took the Oilers only 13 seconds to convert as Sam Gagner made a great shot from the point that snuck in under the bar and tied the game up at 2-2.
The Oilers came within inches of taking the lead with six minutes to play in the second. Jordan Eberle couldn't quite jam the puck in past an outstretched Ryan Miller.
Shots on goal after two periods were 20 to 19 in favour of the Sabres after Buffalo outshot Edmonton 12-5 in the middle frame.
Buffalo had a great chance to break teh deadlock early in the third as Brad Boyes had the puck at the side of the net and saw an opening but couldn't jam it through.
With 9:06 to play in the third, Theo Peckham took a holding penalty during a scramble near the Oilers net. The blueliner grabbed a hold of Nathan Gerbe as he tried to bring the puck back in front.
Shots on goal to that point in the period were 9 to 5 for Buffalo, with the Sabres in a good position to take the lead with a man advantage.
The Oilers were able to kill off the penalty but with just over five minutes to play, Drew Stafford found a loose puck and slipped it past Khabibulin during a scramble in front of the net.
A couple minutes later, Gerbe skated in alone on Khabibulin and made no mistake, beating the Oilers netminder one-on-one to extend Buffalo's lead to 4-2.
Edmonton got that one back with 1:50 to play. Corey Potter had a seeing-eye shot from far out that beat Miller and made it 4-3.