BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Three weeks after joining the Edmonton Oilers, Matt Hendricks is establishing himself as a vocal leader on the ice.
He is chipping in on the score sheet, too.
The veteran center scored on a short-handed breakaway early in the third period, leading Edmonton to a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.
"They want me to be vocal, they want me to be the type of person that I am, the type of player that I am, which has made it very easy," Hendricks said.
Hendricks joined the Oilers in a trade with the Nashville Predators on Jan. 14. The 32-year-old is known for his work ethic and leadership, which is welcome on a team that features some of the youngest up-and-coming talent in the NHL.
Hendricks scored the game-winner 57 seconds into the final period. After a Sabres miscue, center Boyd Gordon fed Hendricks with a pass down the middle of the ice, and Hendricks beat Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth with a low wrist shot to the blocker side.
"He's preaching all the stuff that we need here," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said of Hendricks. "He's been excellent for me coming in. He plays extremely hard every night, he lays it on the line.
"He's been a good penalty killer for us, but definitely a guy that's very vocal, has a very strong opinion about habits, about being a good teammate, the work that has to go into being a good team. I think a lot of our guys need to be listening to that 'cause he certainly knows what he's talking about."
Defensemen Jeff Petry and Justin Schultz also scored for the Oilers. Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov made 42 saves.
The game was a battle between the two worst teams in the league. Buffalo (15-32-8) is last in the Eastern Conference, while Edmonton (19-33-6) sits last in the Western Conference.
"I thought it was an ugly game both ways," Eakins said. "It never seemed to be able to pick up any speed, and it seemed when the game got into the flow of it, there was a penalty one way or the other. Seemed like there were a lot of whistles. It was a tough one I think for both teams to get going in."
Center Steve Ott and right winger Drew Stafford scored for Buffalo. Enroth stopped 25 shots.
The Oilers jumped on top 32 seconds into the game. Petry burst past Sabres defenseman Jamie McBain with a slick move up ice before putting a backhand shot past Enroth.
"Unfortunately, the first shot of the game goes in and it's 1-0," Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. "They responded pretty well. Any time you get 44 shots, and some really good looks and a couple of goal posts, we're up 2-1 with the possibility of making it 3-1, it's a different result. The big thing is we just want to see a good effort, and we got one."
The Sabres evened the score 8:04 into the first period on a rebound shot from Ott. His backhand strike went through the legs of Bryzgalov and inched over the line before Petry's last-gasp clearance attempt.
Stafford gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead on a highlight-reel strike with just under one minute remaining in the first period. On a short-handed, two-on-one rush, Stafford roofed a wrist shot for his eighth goal of the season.
Edmonton tied the game at 2 with 3:15 remaining in the second on Schultz's eighth goal of the season. Schultz launched a wrist shot from the middle of the right circle into the top left corner of the Buffalo net. The goal was one of the few bright moments in an otherwise sloppy second period; the teams combined for seven penalties in the period.
The Sabres nearly tied the game midway through the third period, but officials ruled that the whistle blew before left winger Marcus Foligno tipped the puck into the net at 9:35.
"I didn't think (Bryzgalov) had control over it," Foligno said. "I thought it was between his pad and his glove. I think (the referee) just caught himself on the wrong side of the goalie, and I thought it was in. It was just a quick whistle. It was a tough break. We could've had momentum after that shift with a goal."
Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. Details of the injury were not known immediately following the game.
NOTES: The Oilers scratched LW Ryan Jones, D Corey Potter and D Anton Belov. ... Buffalo LW Ville Leino, D Chad Ruhwedel and C Zenon Konopka did not dress. ... Prior to the game, the Sabres placed LW Matt Moulson on injured reserve. ... Buffalo RW Drew Stafford returned to the lineup after missing four games due to an upper-body injury. ... This was the first of two meetings between the Sabres and Oilers this season. They face off again March 20 in Edmonton
By Mark Ludwiczak, The Sports Xchange
Publish Date: February 3, 2014 11:06:25 PM
Hendricks' short-handed goal lifts Oilers
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