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Sam Reinhart and Leon Draisaitl also bear watching in Sabres-Oilers matchup

It isn't always about the 2015 NHL Draft when the Buffalo Sabres meet the Edmonton Oilers.

Sure, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are putting up numbers for their teams as the top two picks from that year. But the Buffalo-Edmonton connection from 2014 is also proving to be prolific as well.

Sam Reinhart went No. 2 in 2014 and Edmonton's Leon Draisaitl went No. 3 that year in Philadelphia. Both of them are enjoying their best NHL seasons as the Sabres and Oilers meet Monday night in KeyBank Center.

Draisaitl, and not McDavid, actually leads the Oilers in goals with 40. That's seven more than McDavid, who had 41 last year, and gives Edmonton a 40-goal man in two straight years for the first time since Mark Messier had 45 in 1989-90 and Petr Klima had 40 in 1990-91.

Reinhart, meanwhile, has already set career highs in assists (40) and points (58). He has 18 goals and could pass his career high of 25 set last year.

But even with Draisaitl and McDavid piling up goals and points, Edmonton still has just 183 goals on the season and is 24th in the league — four goals behind Buffalo.

Mike Harrington: 'Massive falls from grace' dog Sabres, Oilers as teams face off

Still, the Oilers are 4-1-1 in their last six games and coming off perhaps their best game of the season in Saturday's 4-0 win at Columbus. But that came on the heels of a 1-8-3 slide that essentially ruined their season.

Coach Ken Hitchcock has been pleased with the way his team has regained its equilibrium.

"People complain about what we don’t have. Well, all we have is a team. You’ve got to give us that,” Hitchcock told reporters after Saturday's game. "You can complain that we’ve got American League [players], or whatever. What we have is a damned team. And a good one. We’re not going to be easy to play against for the rest of the year.”

A big recent factor for Edmonton has been in goal, where Mikko Koskinen has stopped 65 of 67 shots the last two games after getting pulled from Wednesday's 6-2 loss in Toronto.


The Sabres made no roster moves Sunday and no injury updates were issued on any players. Defenseman Jake McCabe left Saturday's game in Toronto after a series of bodychecks between players in the final minute of the second period. He did not return for a third and coach Phil Housley had no update on his status after the game.

The Sabres will have their normal gameday morning skate Monday at 10:30 in the arena and more will be gleaned about McCabe's status then. The same goes for goaltender Carter Hutton, who tweaked a lower-body injury in practice on Thursday and thus gave way for Linus Ullmark to start Friday against Pittsburgh and again Saturday in Toronto.

Hutton was pulled after giving up five goals in 25 minutes during the Sabres 7-2 loss in Edmonton on Jan. 14.


• The Sabres are 10-4-1 against the Pacific Division this season, including 6-0-1 at home.

• With his three-point night Saturday against the Sabres, Toronto center John Tavares became the fourth player to reach 70 points in his first season with the Maple Leafs and the first since Nikolai Borschevsky had 74 points in 1992-93.

• Monday's game will be televised as normal on MSG and WGR Radio. Fans out of the Buffalo market can watch the game on NHL Network. Dan Dunleavy will be on the play by play again as Rick Jeanneret wraps up his annual vacation. Jeanneret is scheduled to return to the mic for both games of the upcoming road trip, Thursday night in Chicago and Saturday afternoon in Colorado.

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