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The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal scored by forward Leon Draisaitl during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at Rogers Place. The Oilers won 8-3 on March 21, 2024.Perry Nelson/Reuters

The Edmonton Oilers flipped a switch Thursday night and showed the team they believe themselves to be.

Mattias Ekholm had two goals and one assist, Connor McDavid dished out four helpers and the Oilers battled back from an early deficit to pummel the Buffalo Sabres 8-3. Edmonton scored five goals in the third period.

“If you look at the first, I didn’t really love it,” Ekholm said. “We got in and had a nice chat about it and got out and showed the kind of team we are.

“Even though the second was a decently even period, I liked our intensity, I liked our checking better and then obviously in the third we took over.”

Zach Hyman, with two goals, Leon Draisaitl, with a goal and two assists, Darnell Nurse, Ryan McLeod and Connor Brown also scored for Edmonton (42-21-4).

Stuart Skinner made 26 saves as the Oilers have won two straight and improved to 9-1-2 in their last 12 outings.

“It is nice that we are winning and producing wins, but I still think there is more there to be had, more urgency,” McDavid said. “Which is a good thing.

“It’s that time of year when we need to ramp up and get ready to go. We are still playing for positioning and all that, there is still lots to be playing for.”

J.J. Peterka, with two goals, and Victor Olofsson scored for Buffalo (33-33-5), which has lost three of its last four games. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 31 shots.

“I don’t really know what to say about that one, it’s obviously a frustrating loss,” said Sabres forward Tage Thompson. “I thought our first and second (periods) were good hockey, you go into the third a tie game, chance to win an important hockey game and they get a couple goals and we’re chasing from behind.

“They get another one and then it feels out of reach, now it’s a lot of frustration I think we let creep into our game there at the end.”

Peterka opened the scoring just 1:38 into the opening period. An Edmonton turnover allowed Alex Tuch to chip it across to a wide-open Peterka in front and he capitalized.

The Sabres looked to have taken a two-goal lead just past the midway mark of the frame after Rasmus Dahlin snapped a shot past Skinner. However, a video review quickly determined that the play was offside and the goal was overturned.

Olofsson put Buffalo ahead 2-0 with 3:26 to play in the first.

Draisaitl got Edmonton on the board on the power play with 1:05 to play in the period on a one-timer for his 35th.

The Oilers pulled even 4:26 into the second period when Ekholm scored on a 2-on-1.

Peterka restored Buffalo’s lead with 3:04 to play in the middle frame. He half-fanned on a shot that got past Skinner for his second of the game.

Hyman tied the game up with 48 seconds left in the second period.

Nurse gave the Oilers took their first lead of the evening 4:38 into the third period. Troy Stecher got the assist for his first point as an Oiler since arriving from Arizona at the trade deadline.

Ekholm made it 5-3 just 62 seconds later, firing a shot in off a Draisaitl backhand drop pass for his second of the game.

Hyman buried his second of the game and 48th of the year with 4:22 left to play when McDavid found him in front from behind the goal line.

The Oilers continued to pour it on with McLeod scoring with 3:02 remaining and another from Brown with nine seconds left.

“What do we have, 15 games left? That’s where you really ramp up your game and you figure out how you’re going to win,” Hyman said. “And I think we have a really good sense of what our identity is and how we’re going to win.”


Edmonton entered the contest with a 13-2-2 record in its last 17 home games. Stecher remained in the Edmonton lineup with defenceman Vincent Desharnais nursing a hand injury.

Up next

Sabres: Complete a five-game road trip in Calgary against the Flames on Sunday.

Oilers: Begin a three-game road swing in Toronto against the Maple Leafs on Saturday.

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