EDMONTON – A three-point night is a good one for any player, but for Buffalo Sabres defenceman Mike Weber it was virtually a career performance.
Weber scored his first two goals in the NHL as the Sabres won for just the second time in nine road games Tuesday, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 4-2.
Luke Adam and Jochen Hecht also scored for the Sabres (15-18-4), who also snapped a two-game skid.
Weber also had an assist for a three-point night after picking up just four assists in his first 39 NHL games through portions of three seasons with the Sabres.
“That’s probably the biggest game I have had in hockey, ever,” said the Pittsburgh product. “It was pretty special. I guess every squirrel finds a nut sometimes.”
Weber wasn’t the only one with a night to remember for the Sabres, as Ryan Miller made 29 saves to earn his 200th career NHL win.
“It’s pretty cool to be around long enough to get 200 wins,” said the 30-year old Michigan native. “You never expect to be around that long. I am just happy to be playing and making a career out of it. It’s exciting to reach milestones now.”
Dustin Penner and Ryan Jones replied for the Oilers (12-17-6). Edmonton has now lost four in a row and six of its last seven.
“We had a good third and were strong in the first 10 minutes but the white part of the Oreo cookie wasn’t very good. It was awful,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “This is the way the season is. As much as we don’t like it, we are still going to see this occasionally. What we have to do is limit the number of times this happens moving forward.”
Oiler rookie Taylor Hall agreed that the overall performance wasn’t up to snuff.
“That’s certainly not the effort we wanted,” he said. “After playing well in the three games on the road we had an opportunity to start the home stand off right and we didn’t do that.”
Buffalo made it a 3-1 game three minutes into the third as Hecht picked the bottom corner on Oilers netminder Nikolai Khabibulin for just his fourth of the year.
The Oilers got back into the game three minutes later as Tom Gilbert threw a shot on net that deflected off the skate of Jones and past Miller.
The Sabres netminder then made a tremendous save to deny Ales Hemsky on an Edmonton power play with eight minutes to go in regulation.
Weber scored into an empty net with 52 seconds remaining to seal the deal for Buffalo.
Edmonton got off to a quick start in the first as Hemsky made an immediate impact in his return from injury. The skilful winger fought off Tyler Ennis to keep the puck in Buffalo territory and allow Penner to blast the first shot of the game past Miller just 1:27 in.
Buffalo came close to tying the game midway through the opening period on a Mike Grier wraparound attempt but Khabibulin showed some impressive speed to come across for a pad save.
The Sabres tied it with just over two minutes to play in the first as a Patrick Kaleta wraparound found its way in front to Adam, who caught Khabibulin going the wrong way.
Buffalo almost took the lead less than a minute later on a 2-on-0 breakaway but Khabibulin stopped Nathan Gerbe.
The Sabres went ahead 2-1 early in the second as Weber scored his first in the NHL with a shot from the point that Khabibulin wasn’t expecting.
The Oilers play the second game of a five-game homestand Thursday against Colorado. The Sabres are off until Saturday when they make a brief appearance at home to play Boston before heading out on a three-game trip.
Notes: The Oilers lost defenceman Ryan Whitney to a right ankle injury early in the first period. Whitney leads the team with 27 points. He will be assessed on Wednesday… It was the only meeting between the two teams this season. Edmonton has struggled against the Sabres in recent years, going 0-3-1 against them in the last six years prior to Tuesday’s contest. … Hemsky was back after missing 10 games with a groin injury. … Edmonton captain Shawn Horcoff skated before the team’s practice Monday even though he is projected to be out until February with a knee injury. … Buffalo was without leading scorer Derek Roy, who’s out 4-to-6 months with a quadriceps injury. … The Sabres were also without centre Tim Connolly, out indefinitely after fracturing his nose on Dec. 18. Also missing for Buffalo was defenceman Tyler Myers who missed his first NHL game on Monday in Calgary with an illness. … Edmonton defenceman Jeff Petry made his NHL debut, giving Edmonton six rookies in the lineup for the game. Petry picked up an assist in the game.