NHL Game Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Buffalo Sabres | 03/21/2024

Photo via Sportskeeda

It’s not the cleanest way to win a hockey game, but Edmonton will take it. Give the Canadiens credit for battling back in the third period. They wanted to show a high level of effort for head coach Martin St. Louis, who recently needed to take an indefinite leave of absence to be with his family. We hope his family is okay at this time and that the news won’t be too sad.

There were some last-minute line changes during the pre-game. Evander Kane was placed on the top line, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins went down to the third line. While Kane was not effective on the scoresheet, he did help his team draw a couple of penalties late in the third period. I thought the one he drew for real was the refs making up for penalties that he actually should’ve drawn. It wasn’t as egregious as the other ones, in my opinion. Then, with just less than a minute left in regulation, Adam Henrique, who scored his first goal as an Oiler in the second period, got high-sticked and drew blood, resulting in a four-minute double-minor to Joel Armia. Kane got in Armia’s way, forcing his stick to make contact with Henrique. Montreal came close to closing the entire man advantage during all of Overtime, but the Oilers eventually took advantage of their fatigue, as you can only escape a 4-3 OT powerplay for so long.

A quick congrats to former Oiler Craig MacTavish, for recently being inducted into the Alberta Hall Of Fame. He joined former Calgary Flames star Jarome Iginla and former Team Canada goaltender Shannon Szabados. After tonight, the Oilers will go on a 3 game Canadian road trip. The keys to the game are…

Things Change: When I previewed Edmonton’s game in Buffalo two weeks ago, the Sabres didn’t look like a team that could still theoretically make the Playoffs. Two weeks later, they’re now just 5 points out of a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Oilers need to switch from keeping focus against a team playing for pride to keeping focus against a team that feels they can still save their season.

Close it Out: Also two weeks ago, Edmonton took an early 2-0 lead. Then Buffalo eventually came back and won it in the shootout. Tuesday night, the Oilers had a 2-0 lead with one period left to play, and the Habs came back to tie it up before losing in OT. If you’re going to take another multi-goal, learn to keep it, and don’t get so comfortable that you forget you’re playing a 60-minute game.

Just Wait: This key is more for humor. If this game goes to OT and a player from either team scores, don’t go back to the locker room yet like last time. First see whether or not the refs will disallow the goal, so the fans in the rink won’t leave and then have rush walking back to their seats.

Stephen Vani

Oilers fan in Toronto. Staying up past my bedtime for Western games since the mid 2000s.

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