1/25/97 -- 1:55 AM


BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - The Edmonton Oilers had enough anger built up from a lousy performance against the New York Islanders to know it wouldn't happen again against the Buffalo Sabres.

Dan McGillis scored one goal and set up another in the third period to lead the Oilers to a 3-1 victory over the Sabres on Friday night. Edmonton was bound to play better after losing 8-1 to the Islanders two days earlier.

``They could have come out here with one skate each and got a better effort than they did on the Island,'' Oilers coach Ron Low said. ``Motivation wasn't a problem. They were motivated by themselves. They were so awful against the Islanders it was a joke. And they all knew it.''

And the Sabres felt it.

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

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

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.

``I don't believe I knocked him down,'' May said. ``I'm disappointed it would come down to that.''

Andrei Kovalenko had the other goal and added an assist on McGillis' goal for the Oilers, who earned their first victory on a four-game road trip and handed rookie goal Steve Shields is first career loss in three starts.

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

``You've gotta 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.

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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