O’Reilly, Gionta lift Sabres past Oilers


Not many people could have expected the Buffalo Sabres to get their first win of the season like this.

After a rough loss in their opener, the Sabres defeated the Edmonton Oilers by a 6-2 score at Rogers Place on Sunday night.

Ryan O’Reilly and Brian Gionta paved the way with two goals apiece as part of a huge offensive night for Buffalo. O’Reilly finished with a career-high of four points in the game.

O’Reilly’s second goal of the night was just a dump-in from center ice that skipped by Cam Talbot, and it turned out to be the game-winning goal.

“I tried to put a little action on it,” O’Reilly said. “I’ve practiced it, you never know what’s gonna happen.”

In his Sabres’ debut, Kyle Okposo opened the scoring after receiving a pass from Sam Reinhart, then buried a shot past Cam Talbot early in the first period.

“It’s nice, good for the confidence,” Okposo said. “I’m happy to get that off my back.”

Okposo becomes the 5th current Sabres’ player to score on his first shot with the team. The others being Jack Eichel, Hudson Fasching, Zemgus Girgensons and Matt Moulson.

Moulson scored the other goal for Buffalo, and the team put up six goals on just 24 shots.

Gionta redirected a shot from the point, chasing Talbot from goal as Jonas Gustavsson replaced him in the second period.

Later in the second, Gustavsson made a great save on an odd-man rush, but collided with his own player and remained down on the ice. Despite getting hit near the head, Gustavsson remained in the game with just over three minutes to go.

However, a concussion spotter waved him to the bench a couple of minutes later, and Talbot went back in goal. Gustavsson was not on the bench for the remainder of the game.

Talbot’s off-night continued as the Sabres tallied two more with him in goal. Gustavsson only played 10:04 and recorded one save.

At the other end, Robin Lehner made 31 stops after allowing two goals in the opening period. The Sabres quickly saw their two-goal lead diminish as Benoit Pouliot and Milan Lucic knocked home rebounds, but it was all Sabres from there.

Dmitry Kulikov also made his Sabres’ debut and was a -2 with a shot on goal.

The Sabres came into the game with a 9-23-3 road record vs. the Oilers. With Connor McDavid and the Oilers off to a hot start this season, the Sabres found a way to shut them down.

“It’s a tall task to keep Connor McDavid off the score sheet and I thought our guys did a great job,” said head coach Dan Bylsma. “I thought we came out hard and strong and how we need to play the game, which was in the offensive zone.”

It was easily the Oilers’ worst game of this young season and head coach Todd McLellan wasn’t shy about the loss.

“We looked like the Bad News Bears,” McLellan said. “We had guys falling all over the place. Nobody was ready to play.”

The six goals in a game is a feat Buffalo only achieved three times last season and it’s a great way to begin the West-coast swing.

“It’s a big road trip, nice to start off like that. We wanted to be heavy and play a strong game, trying to slow them down” – Ryan O’Reilly

The Sabres will continue their four game road trip on Tuesday against the Calgary Flames. That game is scheduled for a 9 p.m. EST faceoff and will be aired on MSG.

Kevin Freiheit
Kevin Freiheit
I founded Buffalo Hockey Central in 2008 and have poured hours and hours into this site. Luckily, we have a great team of writers and designers who have helped keep this up and running despite a ton of out-of-pocket costs. We do this because we enjoy it, and we're desperate to see the Sabres win the Cup someday, but they have to make the playoffs first.
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