The Sabres had experienced the anger and frustration before, winger Drew Stafford said. At home, against a tired, reeling opponent they should be throttling, they stumbled badly again early Tuesday, getting dominated by the Edmonton Oilers.
Instead of pouncing on the Oilers, who played a night earlier in Chicago and got into town about 2:30 am, the listless Sabres fell behind 1-0 as the visitors held a 9-0 and 12-2 shot advantage halfway through the opening period.
“It was the same thing. I think guys are sick of talking in here. We’re running out of things to say,” Stafford, who scored the go-ahead goal 14:34 into the third period, said after the Sabres rallied to an ugly win 4-3 inside the First Niagara Center. “It’s the same story. ‘Things aren’t going well. We got to be better. We got to do all this.’ We’re sick of talking. We knew we needed to go out there and be better.”
The Sabres did, ending their three-game losing streak in a less-than-convincing fashion before a mostly silent capacity crowd of 18,690 fans. Following Taylor Hall’s goal, Jason Pominville tied it at 1 later in the first period. Jordan Leopold put the Sabres up in the second period before Sam Gagner’s power-play goal knotted it.
“A couple of guys said some stuff in the room,” Sabres center Derek Roy said about the first intermission. “They were pretty angry about, ‘We got to jump on them. They played last night.’ I thought we did that in the second and third.”
Despite their triumph over the NHL-leading Blackhawks, the Oilers were ripe to be exploited. They had had lost three straight, seven of eight and seven consecutive road contests prior to Monday.
“After the second period, when it was 2-2, we’ve been in that situation before,” said Stafford, who had three points. “Like I said, guys are sick of talking. Just go out there and do it. We got rewarded because we put the work in. We got in the right places.”