|Oilers aim for split with Sabres|
The Edmonton Oilers are again showing signs of looking like the team many expected to take that step forward and become one of the league's elite clubs.
The Oilers look to match a season high with their fourth straight win and earn a split of their season series with the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
Edmonton (21-23-3) came out of its bye week by ripping the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 on Saturday night in the opener of a five-game homestand and its first game without leading goal scorer Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who's expected to miss up to six weeks with an upper-body injury.
Pat Maroon scored twice, giving him four goals in a three-game streak and 13 for the season.
"Streaky scorers and Patty's been that way, and we want to keep him going. ... Playing on a different line refreshes some people. He's strung a group of games together and we want him to continue that," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said.
And McLellan's defense has tightened up. Cam Talbot has turned away 59 of 63 shots over the last two games after new backup Al Montoya earned his first win in an Edmonton uniform by stopping all 19 shots faced in relief of Talbot to a win over Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 12.
The Oilers won four in a row from Dec. 16-23 before going on a 1-6-1 slide.
"We've got the start for it with three, obviously. But we put together four recently and it went the other way," center Mark Letestu told the Oilers' official website. "The potential is there for it. We know we need to put together a good streak."
Edmonton has dropped five of its last seven at home versus the Sabres.
Buffalo (12-26-9) earned its first win in Calgary since 2003 after beating the Flames 2-1 in overtime on Monday. Jack Eichel extended his surge by scoring 90 seconds into the extra frame for his third game-winner this season.
Selected second overall in the 2015 draft after Edmonton took Connor McDavid, Eichel has four goals and six assists in a six-game points streak, and 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) in his last 14 games.
The Boston University product leads the club in goals (19), assists (26) and points (45). Buffalo is 10-13-6 when Eichel notches at least one point, but just 2-13-3 when held off the scoresheet.
In four head-to-head meetings, McDavid has two goals and two assists, while Eichel has two goals and one assist. Eichel, however, scored the game-winning goal in the Sabres' 3-1 victory on Nov. 24 in Buffalo.
Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has three goals and seven assists in his last 10 games after assisting on Eichel's winner on Monday. Ristolainen has logged three straight multipoint games versus the Oilers, totaling eight points (one goal, seven assists).
Chad Johnson may have earned a second consecutive start after making 32 saves on Monday to end an 0-7-3 stretch and collect his first win since Oct. 15. Johnson is 1-1-0 with a 3.05 goals-against average and .913 save percentage over two career starts in Edmonton.
"It's a great win. It's a great team effort. ... Our goaltender was our best player. It's good to see Johnny get rewarded," Eichel said.
Robin Lehner is 0-4-1 with a 4.89 GAA and .859 save percentage in six starts since beating the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 29. The native of Sweden won in his only career start in Northern Alberta in October 2016.
The Sabres, who are tied with Arizona for the fewest points, are 2-6-2 in the second of back-to-back games this season.
"Obviously, it's a good team there in Edmonton. They have a lot of skill, a lot of speed," Eichel said.