EDMONTON – It may have been a bit early to count out the Edmonton Oilers.
Taylor Hall and Teddy Purcell each had a goal and an assist as the Oilers continued their climb out of the NHL basement with a 4-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.
Jordan Eberle and Luke Gazdic also scored for the Oilers (11-15-2), who have won three in a row and four of their last five to move to within three points of a playoff position.
“It’s nice to win three in a row at home,” Hall said. “That’s a big boost for our group.
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“You look at the standings and we are getting closer and closer to where we want to be. As we start getting bodies back it’s important for us to stay in it.”
Anders Nilsson continues to be the hot hand in the Edmonton net after making 32 saves for the victory.
“It’s nice to get on a little bit of a roll,” Nilsson said. “We need to continue on this path and get more wins so that we can get in the playoff race.”
Jack Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly replied for the Sabres (11-13-3), who have lost two of their last three.
“There was way too many turnovers,” O’Reilly said. “That was the reason we lost that one. We have to be better, especially on the road.
“It wasn’t a good night for us on the (power play). I don’t know if we were just lazy or not wanting to put in the work, but we have to be out there and use that opportunity to at least outwork them and we’ll gain some opportunities.”
The Sabres got on the board seven minutes into the first after some sloppy play by the Oilers in their own zone ended up with the puck on the stick of Eichel, who beat Nilsson with a backhander for his ninth of the year.
The Oilers tied the game midway through the first as Hall hooked a shot towards the net from the blue line that was tipped by Purcell past Buffalo goalie Chad Johnson, who finished with 24 saves on 28 shots.
Edmonton made it 2-1 with four minutes left in the opening frame when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins battled to get a puck behind the net and fed it in front for Eberle for the goal.
The home squad added to its lead on the power play with just over a minute left in the first as Purcell slid a puck under a sprawling Johnson to Hall, who scored his 11th into a wide-open net.
The Sabres finally connected on one of their many power plays in the second period with six-and-a-half minutes left as Zach Bogosian threaded the needle with a pass in front to O’Reilly, who beat Nilsson on the backhand.
Edmonton restored its two-goal lead with two minutes left in the second as the puck went in off of Gazdic’s skate while he was being shoved into the Buffalo net.
The Oilers scored on their only power-play opportunity while the Sabres went 1 for 4.
Edmonton sits three points behind the Arizona Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks for the third spot in the Pacific Division.
The Sabres are right back at it on Monday, heading to Vancouver to face the Canucks. The Oilers are off until Wednesday, when they host the San Jose Sharks.
Notes: Edmonton swept both games last season… Out for the Oilers were Connor McDavid (clavicle) Rob Klinkhammer (leg), Nail Yakupov (ankle), Benoit Pouliot (lower body) and Andrew Ference (undisclosed) … Injured for the Sabres were Robin Lehner (ankle), Tyler Ennis (upper body), Mark Pysyk (lower body) and Mike Weber (knee).