1/24/97 -- 11:20 PM

Oilers-Sabres,


BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - The Edmonton Oilers say they outplayed the Buffalo Sabres and deserved the victory. The Sabres say referee Paul Stewart took one away from them.

Dan McGillis scored one goal and set up one in the third period to help the Edmonton Oilers to a 3-1 victory over the Sabres on Friday night, snapping Buffalo's four-game winning streak.

Between the two scores was an apparent goal by Buffalo's Donald Audette that was disallowed with 7:49 left when Brad May was called for interfering with goalie Curtis Joseph.

``You can call it whatever you want,'' Oilers coach Ron Low said. ``We outplayed them in the third period, and we deserved to win the hockey game. You can't touch the goaltender. He touched him. Sorry.''

May was going to the net and put his stick between the legs of Joseph, leaving a wide-open net for Audette. McGillis scored on the ensuing power play that gave the Oilers a 3-1 lead and put away Buffalo.

``You could see that Brad didn't touch him,'' Audette said. ``He (Stewart) wanted to put a show on, and he did.''

The Oilers outshot Buffalo 14-5 in the final 20 minutes and allowed few scoring chances for their first victory in three games in a four-game road trip.

Andre Kovalenko had the other goal and added an assist on McGillis' goal as the Oilers handed rookie goal Steve Shield his first loss in three starts.

Edmonton, which outshot Buffalo 35-23, improved to 19-4-2 against the Sabres. Joseph improved to 8-0-1 lifetime against Buffalo.

``You've got to win the tight ones,'' Joseph said. ``We're young, and we're only going to get better. This is a confidence-builder for us. And confidence is very big for this team.''

Rob Ray scored for Buffalo, which played its third of seven consecutive home games. The Sabres had not lost at Marine Midland Arena since Dec. 13.

The Sabres were sluggish and produced just five shots in the first period before winning the battles in the corners and putting 13 shots on Joseph in the second.

Buffalo had tied the game 1-1 when Ray broke through the slot and one-timed Barrie Moore's pass from behind the net for his sixth goal. The goal is the most for Ray in one season since 1990-91, when he had eight in his first full year in the NHL.

Kovalenko had started the scoring with a power-play goal early in the first period to give Edmonton a 1-0 lead. Doug Weight sent a cross-ice pass from the point to the crease, and Kovalenko waited for Shields to commit himself before lifting a backhander into an open net for his 24th.

``I panicked,'' Shields said. ``I went down early and should have waited for to make a move. He just flipped the puck over me.''

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