Familiar inconsistencies. Different result.
Matt Hendricks and the Edmonton Oilers proved they aren't so bad that they can't beat the lowly Buffalo Sabres — and on the road, no less. The newly acquired forward scored a short-handed goal 57 seconds into the third period, and the Oilers hung on for a 3-2 win in a matchup of the NHL's two worst teams Monday night.
Bouncing back from a lethargic effort in a 4-0 loss at Boston on Saturday, the Oilers managed to eke out a win against the only team below them in the overall standings. Edmonton (19-33-6) won for the fourth time in five games and moved six points clear of the Sabres (15-32-8), who dropped to 4-8-4 in their past 16.
"We didn't have a very good game in Boston. We let them kind of dictate the game for 60 minutes," Hendricks said. "Tonight, we didn't have our 'A' game either, but we were able to get a road win."
Justin Schultz and Jeff Petry also scored for Edmonton, and David Perron had two assists. Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 42 shots in helping Edmonton snap an 0-5-1 skid against the Sabres dating to a 4-1 win on Oct. 16, 2003.
The Oilers, outshot 44-28, even had the good fortune of getting a break from the officials.
Sabres forward Marcus Foligno had a potential tying goal waved off with 10:25 left when referee Gord Dwyer ruled the whistle had blown before the puck went in. Foligno drove in from left side and got a shot off that Bryzgalov appeared to glove. Foligno followed up by poking the puck in.
Dwyer, parked at the left post, immediately waved it off and then confirmed the call following a video review.
"It was a quick whistle. It was a tough break," Foligno said. "We could have had momentum after that shift with a goal."
Drew Stafford and Steve Ott scored for the Sabres.
Sabres backup goalie Jhonas Enroth stopped 25 shots, dropping to 1-11-5 this season and 0-9-4 in his past 13 starts.
The Sabres came up empty in extending their home skid to 0-4-3 — the team's longest since opening the season 0-8-1 in Buffalo.
Buffalo gave up the first goal 32 seconds in, was unable to hold a 2-1 lead and then gave away the game while it was on the power play.
With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins off for hooking, the Sabres turned the puck over inside the Oilers blue line. Edmonton forward Boyd Gordon got the puck and threaded a pass through the middle to hit Hendricks, who had sneaked in behind Buffalo's defenders. Breaking in alone, Hendricks backed Enroth into the crease and lifted a shot inside the left post.
"Great pass," Hendricks said. "I give him a lot of credit. It was a pretty play. I'm sure I would've just dumped it in."
Hendricks is a defensive-minded forward who was acquired by the Oilers in a trade with Nashville two weeks ago.
Oilers coach Dallas Eakins is impressed with what Hendricks has provided on and off the ice.
"He's preaching all the stuff that we need here," Eakins said. "He's been a good penalty-killer for us, but definitely a guy that's very vocal. I think a lot of our guys need to be listening to that because he certainly knows what he's talking about."
Hendricks was happy to contribute with his second goal in nine games for Edmonton.
"Your bread and butter is the defensive style of game, so any time you get an opportunity to add to the stat sheet, it's a good feeling," Hendricks said.
Bryzgalov then did the rest by stopping the final 31 shots he faced after Stafford beat him with a hard snap shot with 53 seconds left in the first period.
One of Bryzgalov's better stops came in the final minute, when he got his glove out to top Alexander Sulzer's shot from the right circle that went through a crowd.
NOTES: Stafford returned after missing four games with an upper-body injury. To make room on their roster, the Sabres placed LW Matt Moulson (upper body) on injured reserve. ... The Oilers are 2-1 in their past three games despite being outshot by a combined 144-80. ... The Sabres became the last NHL team to reach 100 goals this season when Ott tied it at 1. By comparison, Buffalo has allowed a combined 110 goals in the first two periods. ... Sabres D Tyler Myers missed the third period after hurting his right leg in the second.