SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers snake-bitten again

Oilers forward Liam Reddox is helped off the ice after receiving a hit from behind during third...

Oilers forward Liam Reddox is helped off the ice after receiving a hit from behind during third period action in Buffalo on Wednesday. (QMI Agency/Mark Webster)

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

BUFFALO -- An error in judgment by Buffalo Sabres forward Clarke MacArthur opened the door, but the Edmonton Oilers weren't able to burst through it.

Last night with the Sabres up by a goal, MacArthur ran Liam Reddox from behind, giving the Oilers a five-minute power play late in the third period.

However, the closest the Oilers would come to scoring was ringing a shot off the goalpost as the Sabres went on to win 3-1.

"It's tough -- the longer you go without scoring on that power play the more difficult it becomes," said Oilers forward Patrick O'Sullivan.

"We weren't able to get our units set and we were scrambling around. But saying all that, we still had some chances. I hit the post and Gags (Sam Gagner) had a good chance in front. It's kind of the way it's been lately, not being able to get the goal when we needed it."

MacArthur was assessed a five-minute major when he shoved Reddox into the boards from behind as they went after a loose puck. Reddox was injured on the play and had to be helped off the ice. He was up and walking around following the game.

"It was just a race for the puck on the penalty-kill and I might have taken a bad angle to the puck, but I was just trying to get there before he did," said Reddox. "I felt a hit on the backside of my shoulder and I went in awkwardly. I hurt my lower back, my wrist and cut my ankle with my skate when I got my legs all tied up."

The incident occurred with just over six minutes left in the contest and the Sabres up 2-1. Along with the major, MacArthur was given a game misconduct and had to watch from the dressing room as his team attempted to kill off the penalty.

"We were leaning on each other, and I think when he went to shoot it, he lost his balance," MacArthur said. "It was just one of those bad situations and I just hope he's all right. I would never mean to put a guy in like that when he's in a bad spot.

"He went in pretty hard. I kind of stood over him and he moved initially, which was a big relief. Hopefully he'll be OK and that's the main thing."

Apart from O'Sullivan's shot which rang off the post, the Oilers had trouble generating anything on the major. The Sabres were able to kill off the penalty, then Jochen Hecht sealed the victory with an empty-netter.

"We had lots of opportunities on the power play tonight, but we didn't manufacture anything," said Oilers head coach Pat Quinn.

"We know we wanted to establish our shot tonight and we did not shoot the puck. We have one of the best guys in the league (Dustin Penner) willing to be there in front with good hands and a big body, and we still don't bother to shoot the puck."

Drew Stafford and Steve Montador scored for the Sabres giving them a two-goal lead midway through the tilt.

Having played the night before, the Oilers got off to a slow start as the Sabres dominated proceedings in the first period. Had it not been for the play of goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, the game could have been well out of reach early.

The Oilers came out with more energy in the second as they outshot the Sabres 14-5 in the period.

O'Sullivan was eventually able to cut into the lead on a two-man advantage, taking a pass from Ales Hemsky and one-timing a shot past Miller. But it was as close as they would get as Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller came up with a number of big saves.

"We were able to get the momentum back in the second period and pretty much carried it after that, which is tough to do when you're playing back-to-back games," O'Sullivan said. "It's not an excuse, but it's hard and every team has to go through it. I thought we played hard. We didn't have a great start, but sometimes you have to weather the storm and we took it to them in the second period."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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