BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Connor McDavid scored twice, giving him an NHL-leading 54 goals this season, and the Edmonton Oilers beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Monday night.
Buffalo (32-26-4), in the midst of an NHL-worst 11-season playoff drought, failed to gain ground in a tight Eastern Conference race. Four points separated the seventh-place New York Islanders, and ninth-place Buffalo, which was locked in a four-way tie with teams with 68 points.
The Sabres have a short turnaround for their next game, visiting the Islanders on Tuesday night.
In continuing to make his case for his third Hart MVP Trophy in eight NHL seasons, McDavid upped his league-leading points total to a career-best 124 — one more than he finished with last year — and enjoyed his 12th multi-goal game of the season. McDavid also extended his points streak to 11 games, in which the Oilers’ captain has 12 goals and 15 assists.
Derek Ryan also scored and Stuart Skinner stopped 36 shots for the Oilers, who improved to 5-4-3 in their past 12, and bounced back from a 7-5 loss at Winnipeg on Saturday.
Jeff Skinner and Dylan Cozens scored for the Sabres, and Craig Anderson stopped 34 shots. In dropping to 6-4 in its past 10, Buffalo continued its season-long struggles at home in losing five of its past seven.
The Oilers (35-22-8) moved into a tie with Seattle for third in the Pacific Division.
After opening the scoring in the first period, McDavid scored the go-ahead goal 3:23 into the third period, and less than two minutes after Cozens tied the game.
Warren Foegele drove up the left wing to gain the Sabres zone and then spun to hit McDavid in stride cutting up the middle. McDavid veered to his left to get by defender Jacob Bryson, and snapped a shot in though Anderson’s legs.
It was McDavid’s ninth game-winning goal of the season, after he began the day in a four-way tie for second and one behind teammate Leon Draisaitl.
Tied at 1, the Oilers had a go-ahead goal disallowed 8:40 into the second period. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored to the right of the net in being set up by Draisaitl’s no-look pass. The Sabres successfully challenged Edmonton entering the zone offside, when a replay review clearly showed Kailer Yamamoto entering the zone ahead of the puck.
The Oilers also had an empty-net goal waved off for being offside with 6 seconds left.
Oilers LW Evander Kane, a former Sabre, missed his ninth game with a rib injury. … The Sabres were without C Tyson Jost and Ds Mattias Samuelsson and Riley Stillman (head), who are listed day to day.
Forward Jordan Greenway made his Sabres debut after being acquired in a trade with Minnesota on Friday.
“I was pumped,” Greenway said of learning of being traded to Buffalo, where he’s reunited by coach Don Granato, who coached him while with USA Hockey’s developmental program. “The one thing about him was he always knew how to the players that he had play their best, I think. He knows how to make each guy individually go and what they need.”
The hard-hitting forward acknowledged a change of scenery might help. After topping 20 points in four straight seasons, the 26-year-old has two goals and seven points in 45 games this year.