Lander's 1st goal of season leads Edmonton over Buffalo, 3-2
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) Oilers coach Todd Nelson has watched Anton Lander's progress for years in the minors and is pleased to see him starting to have some success at the NHL level.
Lander scored his first goal of the season and also had two assists as Edmonton beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Thursday night in a matchup of the league's two worst teams.
Matt Fraser and Oscar Klefbom also scored for Edmonton (13-27-9), which has won three of four and is four points ahead of last-place Buffalo (14-31-3), which has dropped 13 in a row. The Oilers are 6-5-2 since Nelson took over as full-time head coach.
''He was exceptional, by far the best player on the ice,'' Nelson said of Lander. ''I think he feels really comfortable and more confident when he looks behind and sees me. I've been working with him every year since he came over from Europe, so I think that helps. He's really improved his game.''
Defensemen Tyler Myers and Rasmus Ristolainen scored for the Sabres (14-31-3), who only have one win in their last 18 games.
''We had our chances,'' Buffalo coach Ted Nolan said. ''With this team we need everyone, we can't afford two or three guys not playing well or not giving what they have to give.''
Edmonton grabbed a 3-1 lead at 7:52 of the third when a turnover led to a two-man breakaway, with Teddy Purcell feeding Lander for the goal. Fraser also got an assist on the play and finished with three points.
Lander shrugged off his three-point performance.
''I think we played all right, we can still get better,'' he said. ''You don't have to play great all the time, but if you get a win that's the most important thing. It's nice to get wins here the last couple of games. It's a good thing we have going on now, we have to keep it going.''
The Sabres started the scoring just 2:22 into the first period when Torrey Mitchell won a battle behind the net and dished the puck out in front to Myers, who slipped a shot under the arm of Ben Scrivens for his second goal of the season.
Edmonton responded with 7 1/2 minutes left in first when Lander fed a puck from behind the goal line to Fraser, who beat Jhonas Enroth with a slap shot for his sixth of the year.
The Oilers surged ahead with five minutes to play in the period. Lander sent a backhand pass to Klefbom, who also scored his first goal of the season.
Buffalo pulled within one with 2:02 remaining when Ristolainen knocked home a rebound through Scrivens' legs. But the Sabres took a late penalty and the Oilers were able to run out the clock.
''I think we need to stay positive and just keep approaching every game like we're going to win the game,'' said Enroth, who had 31 saves. ''We can't go into every game thinking we're going to lose the game. We have to stay positive and still believe that we can win games.''
NOTES: Oilers defenseman Nikita Nikitin left in the third period clutching his shoulder after a hard hit into the boards by Buffalo's Zemgus Girgensons. ... The Sabres play the third game of a five-game trip in Vancouver on Friday. The Oilers return to the ice on Saturday in Calgary against the Flames. ... Scrivens had 18 saves.