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Sabres' power play back with vengeance

VANCOUVER – They had to show up at some point, right? The Buffalo Sabres' power play dominated the NHL last year, and the same guys were back. Things had to start clicking sometime.

The time is now.

The Sabres scored three power-play goals during Tuesday's 5-0 demolition of Edmonton, moving the long-suffering unit to 6 for 15 (40 percent) in the last four games.

"Right now we're all on the same page, and I think that was evident," right wing Sam Reinhart said. "We all have fun with each other when we're out there playing like that and reading and reacting off each other. We have a game plan and we know where each other is at, but a lot of it is reacting. That's when we're playing our best out there."

The five-man group of Reinhart, Jack Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Kyle Okposo and Rasmus Ristolainen toyed with the Oilers. They scored on their first three chances and caused the fans in Rogers Place to derisively cheer the home team when Edmonton finally stopped the final power play.

"We're all just doing our jobs," Eichel said. "The more reps you get together, the more times you go out, the more comfortable you start to feel.

"It's good because you're seeing everybody score. You're seeing Risto score. Okie's got a couple on the power play this year. Everyone's kind of contributing."

No one was contributing for the opening three months. Buffalo, which ranked No. 1 last season, fell to the bottom of the league at one point and had been solidly encased in the No. 30 spot. They've moved to 26th at 15.6 percent.

The Sabres started to show a little life around New Year's, and they've got tons of pep in their step now. They have at least one power-play goal in five of the last seven games.

"We're moving around pretty well," said Eichel, who had one goal and two assists on the power play against Edmonton. "There's a confidence right now when we go out there that we're going to succeed and get the job done. Earlier in the year, it was a bit frustrating part of our game, but right now it's something we're able to build off."

Sabres have loads of fun, learn something along the way

The unit is succeeding in numerous ways. On the opening goal Tuesday, Ristolainen got his shot through from the point and Reinhart tipped it in front. Eichel got open for a blistering one-timer on the second power-play goal. The third was a quick-strike masterpiece. The Oilers were bewildered as tic-tac-toe passing by Eichel and Reinhart to O'Reilly made it 5-0.

While the skill players filled the score sheet, the credit was shared team-wide. All four lines applied consistent pressure on the Oilers, forcing them to take two hooking penalties, a cross-checking call and a roughing minor.

"That's how you win games," left wing Zemgus Girgensons said. "It's maybe not always about who gets those goals. It's a full-out team effort. Everyone chipped in. Other lines have worn them down, and it just happens that they score.

"They're the guys that pull the team, but it's just a full team effort these last two games."

Coach Phil Housley concurred.

"A lot of that power-play success has to do with the work five-on-five," Housley said. "When your five-on-five game is really, really solid, it reflects on the power play.

"They're benefiting from guys doing the dirty work and drawing a penalty. Then when they have an opportunity on the power play, they're cashing in. It was really clicking. They're gaining a lot of confidence now, which is important as move forward."

The Wraparound: Sabres 5, Oilers 0

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