BUFFALO, N.Y. – With the game on the line, the Buffalo penalty killers came up big.
Ryan Miller made 28 saves, and the Sabres killed off a late five-minute penalty to snap a two-game losing streak in a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night. Ahead by a goal but down a man and without one of their best penalty killers, the Sabres erased a major boarding penalty on Clarke MacArthur with 6:15 left. MacArthur was given the penalty, along with a game misconduct, after ramming Oilers forward Liam Reddox headfirst into the boards.
The Sabres allowed just two shots and had two blocks during a kill that was missing Mike Grier, who had left earlier in the period because of a groin injury. The defensive-minded Grier is day-to-day.
“The guys did a fantastic job of trying to be real aggressive on the puck carriers,” Buffalo captain Craig Rivet said. “We were able to get through it.”
Reddox, meanwhile, will need X-rays on a swollen wrist after a violent collision with the boards. He also sustained a cut on his face.
“Watching it on tape, (MacArthur) knew exactly what he was doing,” Oilers coach Pat Quinn said. “I don’t have anything to say on it. His head got smacked, and he took a pretty nasty hit.”
Drew Stafford, Steve Montador and Jochen Hecht scored for the Sabres (10-4-1), 6-2-1 at home.
Tim Connolly also added a pair of assists in Buffalo’s fourth straight win over Edmonton.
After an 8-1-1 start, the Sabres found themselves slumping after losing three of four. But they rebounded and killed off six of Edmonton’s seven power-play opportunities.
“We were scrambling around,” Edmonton forward Patrick O’Sullivan said. “That’s the way it’s been lately – not quite able to get the goal when we needed it.”
O’Sullivan scored the lone Edmonton goal, and Nikolai Khabibulin made 23 saves for the Oilers (8-9-2), who have lost five of six.
O’Sullivan also hit two posts in the game, the first coming midway through the second period, and the second with less than two minutes to go during the long power play.
“The one positive thing is we’re playing a lot harder,” he said. “We didn’t get the result tonight, but we certainly applied more pressure and limited the other team’s shots.”
Stafford opened the scoring with 4:29 left in the first period when he lifted a backhander from in tight over Khabibulin’s left shoulder for his team-leading fifth goal.
Buffalo made it 2-0 when Montador fired a slap shot from the right circle for his first goal of the season, scored at 7:34 of the second.
While the Oilers were on a two-man advantage, O’Sullivan cut the deficit in half with his third goal. He one-timed a feed from Ales Hemsky with 2:11 left in the middle period.
Hecht capped the scoring with an empty-net goal with 19 seconds to go.
“We took some penalties we didn’t want to take, but we’ll move forward,” Miller said. “Our desperation was really high and I thought we did a great job of holding on for the win.”
NOTES: The Sabres are 4-0 against Western Conference teams. … Hemsky, Edmonton’s second-leading scorer, returned after missing two games because of a shoulder injury. … Khabibulin has started all but three games for Edmonton. … The Oilers are 1-7 when the opposition scores first. … Sabres LW Thomas Vanek was whistled for three penalties.