EDMONTON, AB – The Buffalo Sabres scored early and late but it was the Edmonton Oilers who scored the most on Thursday night on the strength of a three-point night from Anton Lander.
It was a career night for Lander, with a goal and two assists.
“I thought he was by far the best player on the ice tonight,” said Oilers interim head coach Todd Nelson.
“He feels very comfortable. More comfortable. When he looks behind and sees me, I think that helps. But he’s just improved with his game. He’s getting some opportunity on the power play, on the penalty kill. He’s feeling very comfortable and confident. Now he’s getting a great opportunity here. Tonight I thought he was outstanding.”
Lander attributed his stronger play to feeling more confident.
“It’s probably confidence. I’m trying to get the puck more often,” he said.
Buffalo got on the board first after Tyler Myers put home a rebound past Oilers starting goaltender Ben Scrivens to make it 1-0 for the Sabres only 2:22 in.
After the quick start by Buffalo, the Oilers started to go on the attack. Shots on goal almost eight minutes into the game were 5-3 for Edmonton. Five minutes after the Buffalo goal, some solid forechecking resulted in Edmonton receiving the game's first power play after Myers was sent off for holding.
The Sabres were able to kill that one off, but Edmonton got back on even terms at 1-1 nearly five minutes later. Matt Fraser took a nice backhand feed from Anton Lander at the bottom of the right circle and quickly released it. Sabres netminder Jhonas Enroth got a piece of it, but not enough as it made its way over the goal line.
The Oilers kept pressing after the momentum of the game-tying marker, doubling their lead less than 90 seconds after the tying goal. Once again, it was Lander who dished the puck, this time to Oscar Klefbom who hammered a shot by Enroth to make it 2-1.
Final shot count after one frame was 12-8 for the host squad. Overall, the Oilers outshot the Sabres 34-20 but Coach Nelson felt that they needed to shoot more.
“We ended up with 34 (shots) and we still passed up shots tonight. Way too many. We had opportunities on two-on-ones we were dishing the puck off. That’s fine if your shooting percentage is very high but it has not been. We have to start burying our good chances because we are getting them.”
Shots on goal in the second period were also 12-8 for the Oilers. Overall in the game, they were 24-16 for the home team through 40 minutes.
Close to six minutes into the third, Luke Gazdic dropped the gloves with Nicolas Deslauriers and both combatants threw a multitude of punches and neither was knocked down. After a lengthy swinging match, the officials broke them up.
A couple minutes later, the first shot of the period for either team came on a breakaway. Benoit Pouliot tried to lift a backhand over Enroth but was denied by the Sabres goaltender.
However, Anton Lander converted for the Oilers 19 seconds after that. He worked a nice give-and-go with Teddy Purcell that ended in Purcell dishing the puck cross-crease to the Oilers centre. Lander made no mistake, putting the puck in for his third point of the game.
With 9:08 to play in the third, Jordan Eberle rang a shot off the post from the high slot. Buffalo had yet to register a shot on goal in the period.
Rasmus Ristolainen added a goal for the Sabres with 2:02 to play in the game but that was as close as Buffalo would get.