"There were plenty of areas of our game plan that could be criticized," MacTavish said. "We were just chasing our tails all night. We're not as masochistic as it may seem watching that game. We have to execute our game plan a whole lot better than we did."
Buffalo (25-18-5) has won four of five and eight of 11 games.
"We worked really hard tonight and it was one of those games where everything was going in for us," Sabres forward Clarke MacArthur said. "It's a great confidence booster for us coming back from the break."
Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff understood how his opponents were feeling.
"I've been behind the bench on a team where you have a night like that and it's tough," he said. "The harder they tried it seemed like the worse it was getting."
Erik Cole and Robert Nilsson tallied for the Oilers, who snapped a three-game winning streak. The loss on home ice eclipsed a 9-2 defeat to Chicago earlier this season.
"We didn't think that this could happen to us again," Edmonton assistant captain Steve Staios said. "Especially the way that we were playing of late. Hopefully the experience we have from trying to shake it off last time is the way to do it because we started playing better and got ourselves into a playoff position. You can't sugarcoat how tough a night it was but we have to put this behind us quickly and move on."
Edmonton had a disastrous start to the game as a mix-up between Lubomir Visnovsky and Ales Hemsky led to a goal just 10 seconds in. Vanek picked up the errant puck and fed Stafford who beat Oilers starter Dwayne Roloson for his 10th of the season.
Stafford, the nephew of longtime Oilers equipment manager Barrie Stafford, made it a nine-goal game with two goals just 1:18 apart midway through the third to record the hat trick.
"It was pretty ironic. I was pretty nervous before the game," Stafford said. "You don't get too hyped up and look into things too much, but this one was special for me, it was my first time here playing in front of my uncle seeing me live. Growing up and hanging out with him and that team, it was pretty special, pretty unique."
Just 1:01 after Stafford started the scoring, Clarke MacArthur swung around from the back of the net and fed the puck to a pinching Paetsch for his first of the season.
The Sabres took a three-goal lead midway through the first on a goal sent in through Roloson's legs by Roy for his 19th. Roloson was replaced with rookie backup Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers after allowing three goals on eight shots.
Edmonton actually outshot the Sabres 18-11 in the first.
Two minutes into the second, the Sabres made it 4-0 when Pominville made a return pass to Hecht in close to the Oilers net, and Hecht was able to sweep the puck under a sprawling Deslauriers.
Edmonton got on the board with the game's first power-play goal with 6:37 to go in the second. Robert Nilsson found Cole streaking toward the net and his wrist-shot went in off of Ryan Miller.
Less than a minute later, Connolly scored a power-play goal for Buffalo.
The Sabres would make it 7-1 in the second on goals by Vanek, his 29th, and Spacek on the power play.
Nilsson scored with just 2:08 to go for Edmonton, but Connolly scored a short-handed to increase the lead.
The Oilers announced on Tuesday that they will be without center Sam Gagner for up to two weeks. Gagner has been hampered by a bum ankle that did not improve much during the All-Star break. ... Bruising forward Zack Stortini returned to the Edmonton lineup from a leg injury. ... Out with injuries for the Sabres were Patrick Kaleta (neck), Maxim Afinogenov (groin), Andrej Sekera (undisclosed), Teppo Numminen (jaw) and Henrik Tallinder (shoulder). ... It was the Sabres' first appearance in Edmonton since Oct. 16, 2003.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Rexall Place Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Referees: Steve Kozari, Dennis LaRue Linesmen: Lonnie Cameron, Mark Wheler
Attendance: 16,839 (100.0% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Drew Stafford (10)
Assist: Thomas Vanek
Nathan Paetsch (1)
Assist: Clarke MacArthur
Derek Roy (19)
Assists: Nathan Paetsch, Jason Pominville
Jochen Hecht (6)
Assists: Jason Pominville, Derek Roy
Erik Cole (12)
(Power Play) Assists: Robert Nilsson, Denis Grebeshkov
Tim Connolly (6)
(Power Play) Assists: Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy
Thomas Vanek (29)
Assist: Craig Rivet
Jaroslav Spacek (2)
(Power Play) Assists: Craig Rivet, Ales Kotalik
Drew Stafford (11)
(Power Play) Assists: Paul Gaustad, Ales Kotalik
Drew Stafford (12)
Assists: Tim Connolly, Clarke MacArthur
Robert Nilsson (7)
Assists: Sheldon Souray, Tom Gilbert
Tim Connolly (7)
(Shorthanded) Assist: Jochen Hecht