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Oilers play first game without Schultz, Purcell

Defenseman Pulock to make NHL debut for Islanders

by Derek Van Diest / Contributor

ISLANDERS (33-19-7) at OILERS (22-34-7)

TV: 9:30 p.m. ET; MSG+, SN, NHL.TV

EDMONTON - The Edmonton Oilers will play their first game since trading defenseman Justin Schultz when they host the New York Islanders at Rexall Place on Sunday.

Schultz, 25, once considered a core piece of the Oilers' youth movement, was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday for a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

"It's tough, Schultzy was a great guy and I think a change of scenery is going to be good for him," Oilers left wing Taylor Hall said. "Him getting booed the last couple of games, you don't ever like to see that. So I'm happy for him and I think a change of scenery could be good for him, there'll be a lot less pressure on him. He was a great guy and I had a lot of fun playing with him. On a team like Pittsburgh, I think in the East, it's going to be really good for him."

Schultz signed with the Oilers out of the University of Wisconsin in 2012. He was highly touted after refusing to sign with the Anaheim Ducks, who selected him with the 43rd pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, and became an unrestricted free agent.

Schultz had difficulty living up to high expectations in four seasons with the Oilers. He had three goals and seven assists in 45 games this season with a minus-22 rating.

"Justin is a good player, he's got that talent that a lot of good defensemen have," Oilers forward Jordan Eberle said. "Obviously, the last month wasn't his best and I think a lot of it had to do with lack of confidence, but I've seen the player that Justin can be and I wish him the best. I know he's going to do well there [in Pittsburgh]."

Schultz was a healthy scratch in Edmonton's past two games in anticipation of a trade. The Oilers are on a seven-game losing streak (0-5-2) and have lost 10 of their past 11 games (1-8-2).

Edmonton also traded forward Teddy Purcell to the Florida Panthers for a 2016 NHL Draft pick and traded goalie Anders Nilsson to the St, Louis Blues for goalie Niklas Lundstrom and a 2016 Draft pick.

The Oilers were defeated 8-1 by the Islanders (33-19-7) on Feb. 7, at the Barclay's Center.

"They drilled us in every sense of the game," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "I would say they had their A-game and we were nowhere near ours and it snowballed on us. Throughout the year, you're going to have those games and you have to move on from them. So when we prepare for the game tonight, we're not going to use a lot of clips from that game, because we were just that bad."

New York expects a tougher challenge from Edmonton on Sunday.

"I think anytime you get beat 8-1, you're going to be prepared the next time you play that team," Islanders captain John Tavares said. "I think they came off some pretty good hockey in California and could have easily beat both those teams [Kings and Ducks] and they're obviously two of the top teams in the league. They skate well at home and you can't take anyone for granted in this league. I don't think you ever expect to win games like that [8-1] so we have to be ready to play and be ready to compete and be at our best."

The Islanders are on a three-game win streak, winning the first three games of a season-long, seven-game road trip. Defenseman Ryan Pulock will make his NHL debut.

"I'm excited obviously," Pulock told the Islanders website. "It's a dream as a kid to one day play in the NHL. Today's the day and it's exciting."

Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot will make his seventh consecutive start. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak will start for the Islanders.

Here are the projected lineups:


Josh Bailey - John Tavares - Ryan Strome

Nikolay Kulemin - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo

Anders Lee -Brock Nelson - Cal Clutterbuck

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Steve Bernier

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk

Travis Hamonic - Thomas Hickey

Brian Strait - Ryan Pulock

Jaroslav Halak

Thomas Greiss

Injured: Calvin de Haan (lower body), Mikhail Grabovski (upper body).

Scratched: Marek Zidlicky, Jean-Francois Berube


Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Zack Kassian

Benoit Pouliot - Connor McDavid - Jordan Eberle

Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Lauri Korpikoski  

Jujhar Khaira - Anton Lander - Nail Yakupov

Andrej Sekera - Mark Fayne

Jordan Oesterle - Brandon Davidson

Darnell Nurse - Adam Clendening

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

Injured: Oscar Klefbom (lower body), Andrew Ference (hip), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (hand), Eric Gryba (knee).

Scratched: Iiro Pakarinen

Status report: Brossoit was recalled Saturday after Edmonton traded backup goaltender Anders Nilsson to the St. Louis Blues. Brossoit is expected to backup Talbot for the remainder of the season. … Nugent-Hopkins skated with the Oilers for the first time since breaking a bone in his hand blocking a shot Jan. 18. He is still out indefinitely.

Who's hot: Tavares has a goal and two assists in his past two games. … Cizikas has a goal and two assists in his past three games … Martin has a goal and two assists in his past three games … Eberle has two goals and three assists in his past six games.

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