|BUF||0||1||2||(0 - 0)||3|
|EDM||1||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
|G: 2||Shots: 5|
|A: 1||Hits: 0|
|PTS: 3||PIM: 4|
|+/-: 2||TOI: 14:12|
|G: 1||Shots: 7|
|A: 0||Hits: 0|
|PTS: 1||PIM: 2|
|+/-: -1||TOI: 27:10|
|SA: 36||TOI: 60:00|
|GA: 1||EV: 21-21|
|PIM: 0||PP: 14-15|
|SV%: .972||SH: 0-0|
EDMONTON – Cory Conacher spent many nights during his four years at Canisius College taking charge of games and leading his team to victory. On Thursday, the seventh-leading scorer in school history brought back some of that Golden Griffins magic to help bring an end to Buffalo’s seven-game losing streak.
Conacher scored his first two goals as a Sabre, and chipped in an assist as Buffalo defeated Edmonton 3-1 at Rexall Place. Matt Hackett made 35 saves to earn the win in his first start for Buffalo, and his first NHL victory in over two years.
Claimed off waivers from Ottawa on March 5, Conacher was just the offensive spark that Buffalo needed on this night to avoid tying a franchise record with eight straight losses.
After playing his first six games in Buffalo on a line with Drew Stafford and Tyler Ennis, Conacher was shifted to the wing with Cody Hodgson and Torrey Mitchell. The move seemed to jumpstart Conacher, who was the Sabres’ most energetic forward all night long.
“Mitchell’s a fast player like myself. He’s got some grit to him as well, and it’s nice to play with another guy like that,” said the 24-year-old Conacher. “Stafford and Ennis are both highly skilled guys, but maybe I fit better with those two guys tonight.”
For the second night in a row, the Sabres opened with a perfect road game. They clogged up the neutral zone and limited Edmonton to just two shots on Hackett in the first 12 minutes. That changed in a hurry as the Oilers used a pair of power plays to gain an edge in momentum, and went on to outshoot Buffalo 12-3 over the final 7:25, including eight shots with the man advantage.
After Justin Schultz and Taylor Hall took turns ringing shots off the post, Buffalo’s luck finally ran out with Tyler Ennis in the box for high sticking. On an alert play that was started back in the Oilers zone by goaltender Ben Scrivens, Hall slid down low to the left faceoff dot and one-timed a Schultz pass behind Hackett for his 24th of the season at 17:48.
Buffalo got into penalty trouble again in the second period, but managed to even the score on a power play of their own thanks to Conacher’s first goal of the night that was aided by an eclipse-like screen from John Scott, the unlikeliest of power play specialists.
Sabres defenseman Jamie McBain unleashed a point shot that Conacher tipped at the top of the slot. With the 6-foot-8 Scott entrenched firmly in front of Scrivens, the Edmonton netminder barely even reacted to the tipped shot.
The goal snapped a 27-game scoring drought for Conacher that dated back to December 28.
“It’s definitely refreshing,” Conacher said with a smile. “I already had to get the monkey off my back one time this year, and it feels like it came off again tonight. But most importantly we got the win.”
Conacher, who had 147 points in 129 games at Canisius from 2007-11, gave Buffalo a rare lead as of late just 69 seconds into the third.
Coming off a solid forecheck by Mitchell that forced the Edmonton turnover, Hodgson grabbed the puck just inside the blueline and wristed a shot towards the Edmonton net that Conacher deftly redirected over the left shoulder of Scrivens for his third-career two-goal game.
The red-hot Stafford made it 3-1 at 4:44, burying a shot over the sprawled Scrivens at 4:44 after the puck pinballed through the Oilers zone. The goal was Stafford’s 15th of the year, and 11th in the last 20 games.
Conacher capped off his second career three-point night with an assist on Stafford’s goal. His only previous three-point game was on February 1, 2013 against Winnipeg with Tampa
Buffalo held Edmonton to just nine shots in the third period, after giving up 27 through the first 40 minutes.
The Sabres traveled to Vancouver immediately after the game, and will enjoy an off day on Friday in the scenic west coast city. Buffalo returns to action on Sunday when they face the Canucks in the third game of this season-long, five-game road trip at Rogers Arena. Game time is 8 p.m. ET.
|PPG - Taylor Hall (24) ASST: Justin Schultz (19), David Perron (25)|
1 - 0 EDM
|PPG - Cory Conacher (5) ASST: Jamie McBain (11)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Cory Conacher (6) ASST: Cody Hodgson (20)|
2 - 1 BUF
|Drew Stafford (15) ASST: Tyler Ennis (19), Cory Conacher (19)|
3 - 1 BUF
|Luke Gazdic Fighting (maj) against Zenon Konopka|
|Zenon Konopka Fighting (maj) against Luke Gazdic|
|Cory Conacher Roughing against Ben Scrivens|
|Ben Scrivens Unsportsmanlike conduct|
|Christian Ehrhoff Slashing against Justin Schultz|
|Tyler Ennis Hi-sticking against David Perron|
|Mike Weber Boarding against Matt Hendricks|
|Torrey Mitchell Hooking against Ryan Jones|
|Taylor Hall Hooking against Mike Weber|
|Ryan Smyth Slashing against Matt D'Agostini|
|Marcus Foligno Tripping against Justin Schultz|
|Mike Weber Fighting (maj) against Matt Hendricks|
|Matt Hendricks Fighting (maj) against Mike Weber|
|Cory Conacher Tripping against Taylor Hall|
|SA: 36||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 35||EV: 21 - 21|
|PIM: 0||PP: 14 - 15|
|SV%: .972||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 36||TOI: 57:35|
|Saves: 33||EV: 21 - 23|
|PIM: 2||PP: 6 - 7|
|SV%: .917||SH: 6 - 6|