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PREVIEW: Oilers vs. Sabres

Thursday, 03.20.2014 / 2:46 PM

Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com

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PREVIEW: Oilers vs. Sabres
Buffalo Sabres vs. Edmonton Oilers



MacIntyre and Pitlick recalled plus more from Wednesday's optional Oilers practice.





EDMONTON, AB - Tonight the Edmonton Oilers hosts Buffalo at Rexall Place and although the Sabres are last in the NHL standings, the Oilers are not one to be taking teams likely.

“We’re one spot ahead of them,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “We’re not taking anybody lightly. We want to come out and have a good start against them, keep up with the good habits we’ve really instilled in our game over the last little bit and I don’t care what team you play in this league, They’re dangerous. It’s the NHL so I don’t expect our guys to take anybody lightly.”

The Oilers will come into the matchup a little on the injured side. Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov will miss tonight’s game and Matt Hendricks is a game-time decision, along with Jesse Joensuu most likely out for the season with a high-ankle sprain.


With the aforementioned injuries, the Oilers have recalled forwards Tyler Pitlick and Steve MacIntyre from the Oklahoma City Barons. This is Pitlick’s second stint with the Oilers after a knee injury prematurely ended his first NHL call up. Pitlick scored his first NHL goal in the same game he was injured in, on October 26, in Phoenix.

“I thought I was playing well and playing simple,” Pitlick said. “I got that goal and it felt really good to get that first one out of the way. A few shifts later, I got hurt but it is what it is and I came back and I’m ready to go again.”

Pitlick practiced on a line this morning with Anton Lander and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. This would present the 22 year-old with a big opportunity to jump in offensively.

“Ryan’s a really good player and it’d make my job a lot easier being out there with him. He’s smart and he makes things easier for the players around him.”

Pitlick has 22 points (8-14-22) in 38 games with the Barons this season, one shy of a career high of 23 set in his 62-game rookie 2011-12 campaign. Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson says Pitlick is ‘ready to play’ in the NHL and will be ‘knocking on the door’ of full-time NHL duty next season.


With Steve MacIntyre now in the fold, Oilers rookie tough guy Luke Gazdic now has somewhat of a mentor to go to with questions. Gazdic has been ‘on his own’ when it comes to his first NHL season although he’s handled himself quite well.

“We had a little chat after the warmup skate there just talking about the year and it’s always nice to have someone that’s been there and been through it,” Gazdic said. “Parts of the year, I was kind of going it on my own and kind of jumped in the pool instead of just dip my feet in like I was in there full blow. It’s nice to have a guy, if I have any questions about anything, I can ask him.”

MacIntyre has taken notice of Gazdic this season who has not only notched some heavyweights on his fight card, but has also enhanced his game as the season has rolled on.

“He’s done a good job,” MacIntyre said. “The games I’ve watched, we were talking, just chatting and I was just asking him how things were going and I said hey, if you’ve got any questions, I know how you feel. I know exactly how you feel. But I said you can play the game, you can play the right way and if you need to take care of business, then you can do that too. I just said go out and play your game and I think leading up to this point, he has done that and I’m pretty proud of him.”

When asked to critique Gazdic’s fight card this season, MacIntyre was quick to say he probably wouldn’t want to take one of those heavy rights.

“I’d hate to be on the receiving end,” He said. “He’s a pretty tough cowboy. He’s got a big right hand but also he can play the game. The way the league’s changed and the way the game is changing, it might be a changing of the guard. He’s taken the opportunity and ran with it and done well. My hat’s off to him.”

-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com




SABRES (19-42-8) at OILERS (25-36-9)


Last 10: Buffalo 2-8-0; Edmonton 5-3-2

Season series: This is the second and final game between these cross-conference teams. The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 at First Niagara Center on Feb. 3.

Big story: Oilers right wing Sam Gagner needs one goal to reach 100 in his NHL career, as his team tries to catch the Calgary Flames to avoid a last-place finish in the Western Conference. Buffalo is in last place in the Eastern Conference, but is 6-2-0 in its past eight games against the Oilers and hasn't lost in Edmonton since Oct. 16, 2003.

Team Scope:

Sabres: The goaltender carousel continues to turn in Buffalo as coach Ted Nolan said Wednesday that Matt Hackett would get the start in Edmonton. Hackett is set to become the fifth goalie to start for the Sabres this season. Nathan Lieuwen made his first NHL start in a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, Ryan Miller was traded to the St. Louis Blues prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, and Jhonas Enroth (lower body) and Michal Neuvirth (lower body) are injured. Nolan confirmed Wednesday that Neuvirth is not set to return until Saturday at the Vancouver Canucks, the third of a five-game road trip for the Sabres.

"It's all about the evaluation period going forward here," Nolan said following practice Wednesday. "Hackett has come in with good credentials from the beginning so we'll put him in and see what he has."

Buffalo will try to avoid an eight-game losing streak Thursday after managing 14 shots at Calgary.

Oilers: Edmonton recalled right wing Tyler Pitlick from the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis Wednesday with right wing Nail Yakupov (ankle) doubtful and center Matt Hendricks (leg) questionable for Thursday. Left wing Jesse Joensuu (high ankle sprain) is likely to miss the remainder of the season. Pitlick had 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) with the Barons and scored a goal in three games with the Oilers this season.

"You're never sure how many chances you're going to get and you have to make the most of the chance when it comes," coach Dallas Eakins said Wednesday. "I hope [Pitlick's] ready for his chance."

The Oilers play the second of a six-game homestand and are 3-1-1 in the past five games at Rexall Place.

Who's hot: Sabres right wing Drew Stafford has five points (four goals, one assist) in the past six games. … Gagner has nine points (two goals, nine assists) in the past eight games for the Oilers.

Injury report: The Sabres are without defensemen Tyler Myers (elbow) and Alexander Sulzer (upper body) and forwards Chris Stewart (ankle) and Zemgus Girgensons (lower body). … In addition to the injuries to Yakupov, Hendricks and Joensuu, Oilers defenseman Anton Belov (partially torn oblique) is out.

-- Eric Goodman, NHL.com
2013-2014 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 20 '14 BUF 3 at EDM 1 C. Conacher
Feb 03 '14 EDM 3 at BUF 2 M. Hendricks
M. Moulson55172138-52682
T. Ennis68181937-132850
C. Hodgson60162036-242070
D. Stafford62151631-113321
C. Ehrhoff6862430-163412
C. Stewart60151126+211633
C. Conacher6761925+74412
T. Myers6191322-265830
S. Ott5991120-265561
Z. Girgensons6161420-51001
M. Foligno647916-158003
J. McBain5731114-10810
V. Leino5001212-14800
B. Flynn686511-6800
M. D'Agostini46459-111822
T. Vanek13459-5410
T. Mitchell61189-32500
H. Tallinder56257-193000
M. Pysyk42156-111401
M. Ellis38325-6400
C. McCormick29145-84500
M. Weber56055-286300
M. Grigorenko18213-3200
Z. Konopka57123-98300
P. Varone9112-3400
A. Sulzer25022-3800
L. Omark14022-6600
J. Scott46101-109400
R. Ristolainen23101-7400
L. Adam10101+0400
N. Zadorov7101-4400
J. Larsson21011-11300
K. Porter12011-5200
C. Tropp9011-8000
C. Ruhwedel13000+0200
B. McNabb12000+1600
N. Deslauriers8000-5200
P. Kaleta5000-1500
R. Miller4015-22-310814112.72.923
J. Enroth284-17-5748342.82.911
M. Neuvirth154-8-2415172.78.921
M. Hackett11-0-01361.00.972
N. Lieuwen20-1-03362.22.917
T. Hall64244165-133451
J. Eberle69233053-131864
D. Perron67252550-77072
R. Nugent-Hopkins69163147-162064
S. Gagner5782533-213311
J. Schultz6391928-171412
A. Hemsky5591726-132021
N. Yakupov63111324-333641
R. Smyth61101323-143651
B. Gordon6581321-91611
M. Arcobello4141418-7811
A. Ference6821416-165700
J. Petry695914-153600
P. Larsen22268-3800
M. Hendricks66527-49101
R. Jones49246+14001
A. Belov48156-143200
J. Joensuu42325-161611
C. Potter16055+02100
L. Gazdic63224-712000
N. Schultz60044-112400
W. Acton23213-11400
M. Marincin33033+31400
T. Fedun4202-1000
M. Fraser32112-105800
L. Smid17112-61600
T. Pitlick4101-1000
A. Lander16011-2000
B. Eager7011+1200
D. Grebeshkov7011+0200
O. Klefbom6011-1000
M. Brown8000+11900
B. Hunt3000-3000
R. Horak2000-1000
R. Hamilton2000-2000
L. Omark1000-1000
B. Scrivens3213-12-4659392.23.931
D. Dubnyk3211-17-2948853.36.894
I. Bryzgalov205-8-5576223.01.908
V. Fasth84-2-2202142.43.907
J. LaBarbera71-3-0191463.28.870
R. Bachman30-2-17833.02.916