The young forwards got the attention. The young defenseman delivered the win.
With most of the eyes on Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid, Rasmus Ristolainen lived up to his billing as a top prospect. The Sabres defenseman had three points, including the game-winning goal 57 seconds into overtime, to give Buffalo a 4-3 victory over Edmonton.
The Sabres improved to 5-2-2 in the last nine games with a comeback victory in KeyBank Center.
Ristolainen's power-play goal came from the top of the left circle, with his bomb ringing home off the iron.
Late magic: With goaltender Anders Nilsson pulled for an extra attacker, the Sabres connected with 28.3 seconds left to tie the game. Ryan O'Reilly's slap shot hit the post and the skate of Edmonton's Kris Russell. Evander Kane cleaned up the carom to make it 3-3, drawing a roar from the faithful who stayed to the end.
Out front: With the Oilers’ Zack Kassian in the penalty box for hooking, Kane hoped it would become a two-man advantage after he was high-sticked in the face. The refs didn’t call it, so Kane took matters into his own hands. His shot from the left circle slipped through Talbot, giving the Sabres a 1-0 lead with 9:22 left in the first.
Kane’s second of the season was his second in the last two home games. The power play improved to 8 for its last 27 with the goal (29.6 percent).
Tipping point: Marcus Foligno worked the puck up the right side of the Oilers’ zone before passing to Brian Gionta. The captain, who provided a screen on Kane’s goal, tipped home his sixth of the season with 6:44 left in the first.
Poor second: The Sabres had a second period to forget, giving up two goals while getting outshot, 14-5. The Oilers scored twice in just 1:45, turning the Sabres’ 2-0 lead into a 2-2 tie.
The Oilers had the puck in the Sabres' zone for 7:08, the highest one-period total of the season for a Buffalo opponent.
Cutting the lead: The crease was a crowded place as the Oilers made it 2-1 with 9:29 left in the second. With the puck pinballing near the blue paint, Sabres center Derek Grant shoved the Oilers’ Drake Caggiula onto Nilsson. As he did, Jordan Eberle pushed the puck into the net for a power-play goal.
The Sabres issued a coach’s challenge for goaltender interference, but the goal stood after review. Buffalo’s penalty killers have allowed a goal in eight of the past 11 games.
Tying the game: The player who filled Sabres fans dreams and one who gave them nightmares combined to make it 2-2. McDavid streaked into the Sabres’ zone, held up and sent a cross-ice pass onto the stick of Milan Lucic. The big forward who took out Ryan Miller in 2011 had little problem beating Nilsson on the breakaway.
Caggiula, who was courted by the Sabres in the spring as a college free agent, earned his second assist of the night.
Give ...: Kane intercepted a pass at the Edmonton blue line, allowing Eichel to set up Sam Reinhart at the right side of the net. His wide-open chance to make it 3-2 hit the crossbar with 12:19 to play.
And take: When the puck went into the Sabres' zone, Kane took a cross-checking penalty with 11:34 left. McDavid made the most of it. He pinched from the right point and sent a pass to the slot, where Leon Draisaitl tipped it past Nilsson with 10:01 to go for the winner.
Milestone: Oilers defenseman Andrej Sekera earned the secondary assist on Draisaitl's goal, giving him 200 points for his career. Sekera had 92 of his points with Buffalo.
Short stop: After Eichel drew an interference penalty with 16:17 to play, McDavid went to work. He blazed toward Nilsson on a short-handed breakaway, but the goaltender stay with him and made the save to keep it tied, 2-2.
Quiet start: The Oilers led the NHL with 28 first-period goals, but they didn’t get many chances to add to that. McDavid had an opportunity less than a minute into the game, but it was one of only two shots through the opening 16 minutes for Edmonton. Buffalo finished the first with a 10-5 shot edge and the 2-0 lead.
No fight, no call: Shortly after Gionta’s goal, the Oilers’ Matt Hendricks dropped his gloves in attempt to stir his team. He grabbed Sabres defenseman Justin Falk – who declined the offer. Play continued, though Hendricks should have received a two-minute penalty.
Counting the house: Empty blue seats were plentiful for just the second NHL meeting of Eichel and McDavid. The Sabres announced 18,149 tickets sold.
Next: The Sabres’ upcoming foe is a familiar one. Buffalo will host Washington on Friday. The Capitals have beaten the Sabres twice in the past 11 days. Los Angeles comes to town Tuesday.