Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, Jack Eichel

Eichel’s Penalty-Shot Goal Seals Sabres 3-2 Win Over Oilers

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Jack Eichel scored on a penalty shot 1:09 into overtime and the Buffalo Sabres rallied from a two-goal deficit for a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.

Eichel was awarded the penalty shot after Edmonton’s Oscar Klefbom interfered with the Sabres’ captain as he attempted to break in alone across the Oilers’ blue line. Eichel couldn’t get a shot off on the delayed penalty, and Oilers goalie Mike Smith made an acrobatic save to prevent Sam Reinhart from scoring from the lower right circle.

Eichel then scored when he drove in on net from the left wing and snapped a shot inside the far post.

Reinhart and Curtis Lazar also scored for Buffalo, and Linus Ullmark stopped 25 shots.

Riley Sheahan and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored for the Oilers. Smith stopped 23 shots and dropped to 0-4-1 in his past seven appearances.

Edmonton Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

The Sabres snapped a four-game skid and improved to 2-6-1 in their past nine.

The slump led to Sabres general manager Jason Botterill shaking up Buffalo’s lineup by completing two separate trades within 45 minutes of the puck drop.

First he relieved a logjam at the blue line and freed up salary-cap space by trading defenceman Marco Scandella to the Montreal Canadiens for a fourth-round draft pick. Botterill then sent the newly acquired selection to acquire veteran forward Michael Frolik from the Calgary Flames.

Botterill is counting on Frolik’s addition to improve Buffalo’s secondary scoring and its struggling special teams.

“We haven’t been very happy with the results at all,” Botterill said. “I would say since coming back from the break I think our team’s performed fairly well, but we haven’t gotten results. So, you’re always looking to try and find a fix.”

Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill
Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes, File)

Sheahan and Nugent-Hopkins scored 1:54 apart to stake the Oilers to a 2-0 lead seven minutes in, before the Sabres responded.

Marcus Johansson drove around the net and fed backhand pass to Lazar, who swept the puck in through Smith’s legs from atop the crease at the 8:39 mark of the opening period.

The Sabres then tied it 3:53 into the third, when Reinhart was allowed to stand alone in front and deflect in Zach Bogosian’s shot from the blue line. The goal was the 100th of Reinhart’s career.

Both teams were coming off games featuring major second-half collapses.

The Sabres squandered a 4-1 lead in a 6-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday. The Oilers nearly blew a 6-0 lead by allowing the New York Rangers to score five times over a 16:41 span, before pulling out a 7-5 win on Tuesday.

The trades come at a time the Sabres players expressed their frustrations over ice time under first-year coach Ralph Krueger.

Buffalo Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger
Buffalo Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jeffrey T. Barnes)

Bogosian asked to be traded last month, and was followed by third-line forward Evan Rodrigues, who went public with his trade request this week.

Krueger provided a blunt response to questions about his unhappy players.

“We will work with the players who really want to be here and, quite clearly, play the players who really want to be here,” Krueger said Wednesday.

With Scandella traded, Bogosian returned to the lineup after missing three games. Rodrigues, meantime, was a healthy scratch for a second consecutive game.


Sabres placed LW Dalton Smith on waivers for demotion to the minors after he made his NHL debut on Tuesday. … Oilers C Sam Gagner sat out for the fourth time in five games. … Botterill said Frolik isn’t expected to join the team until this weekend due to visa-related paperwork that must be completed. … Sabres LW Victor Olofsson, named the NHL’s rookie of the month for December earlier in the day, limped off in what appeared to be a non-contact injury after helping set up Reinhart’s goal.


Oilers: Continue five-game road trip at Boston on Saturday.

Sabres: Host Florida Panthers on Saturday.


More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

John Wawrow, The Associated Press

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