EDMONTON, AB -- After starting 2016 off with back-to-back wins, the Edmonton Oilers have dropped four straight games and sit last in the Pacific Division with a 17-23-5 record and 39 points.
The Oilers are coming off a 2-1 shootout setback in San Jose on Thursday, which featured Zack Kassian's debut with Edmonton. The forward, who was acquired from Montreal in late December, had four hits and one shot on net in his 14:23 of ice time.
"I thought it was a good game," Kassian told EdmontonOilers.com. "We wanted to focus on the first 10 minutes and come out hard. We channeled the energy fairly well, got behind the eight ball and battled back. Anytime it goes to a shootout, it’s a toss up. All-in-all, it sucks to lose but feel pretty good."
Thursday's loss also featured the return of Nail Yakupov, who was sidelined 22 games with an ankle sprain. The Russian forward scored Edmonton's lone goal in San Jose and now has three goals and 13 points in 23 games this season.
While the Oilers have had their struggles over the course of the 2015-16 campaign, they have had some success at home, boasting a 12-9-1 record at Rexall Place. They're hoping to build off that and their play in San Jose when they return home for Saturday's game.
"This was a better game for us,” head coach Todd McLellan told EdmontonOilers.com. "Same result, getting a point, but I thought we played a firmer, better-executed game than we did in Phoenix. Penalty kill rebounded well against a very dangerous power play. I know that team well, and for us to play the way we did, we have to be somewhat pleased."
The Oilers and Flames have faced off three times this year, with Calgary winning the last two contests. Edmonton won the first game in the 2015-16 Battle of Alberta, outscoring Calgary 5-2 on Oct. 17, but the Flames picked up a 5-4 win on Oct. 31 and a 5-3 victory on Dec. 27.
Taylor Hall leads the Oilers in scoring in this year's Battle of Alberta, scoring three goals and seven points in three games.
David Jones (2), Michael Frolik (3), Johnny Gaudreau (2), and Mark Giordano (5) have all had multi-goal games against the Oilers this season while TJ Brodie has one goal and four points in two games against Edmonton this year.
BREAKING DOWN THE OILERS
Power Play: 17.3% overall (23 goals scored in 133 chances with the man advantage), 16.7% at home (12 goals scored in 72 chances with the man advantage)
Penalty Kill: 79.4% overall (27 goals allowed in 131 times being short-handed), 79.7% at home (13 goals allowed in 64 times being short-handed)
2015-16 Record vs. the Flames: 1-2-0
2014-15 Record vs. the Flames: 0-4-1
Notable Injuries: Connor McDavid (clavicle), Oscar Klefbom (lower body)
Who's HOT: Nail Yakupov
The 22-year-old returned to the Oilers lineup on Thursday night and had an immediate impact in his first game since Nov. 25. He scored the Oilers only goal in a 2-1 shootout setback to the Sharks, had three shots on net, and was named the game's second star.
"I thought he had a lot of energy," McLellan told the team's website. "He played fast. He was prepared to shoot the puck, and we’d been missing that dangerous shot all the time. He was prepared to release it. He had some velocity on it, he shot and got it back. When he was on the ice, he was dangerous. I was impressed with him being able to play at the pace he did after being out as long as he was."
Honourable Mention: Jordan Eberle
Eberle has five points in his last five games, including a three-assist performance against the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 12. In 32 games this year, the 25-year-old has scored 10 goals and 21 points. His 10 goals are tied for second among all Oilers skaters.
The Regina, SK native collected two assists in the Oilers' 5-3 loss to the Flames on Dec. 27, which was his first game against Calgary this year. He led Edmonton in scoring against Calgary last season with two goals and three points in five games.
Who's NOT: Taylor Hall
The Oilers leading scorer has been held off the scoresheet for the last five games and is a minus-five in that span. Since Dec. 26, Hall has just one goal and two points to his name.
In 45 skates, Hall has 16 goals, 41 points, 32 PIM, and is a plus-six.