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Nugent-Hopkins, Dubnyk lift Oilers to road victory

by Sean Farrell /

OTTAWA -- The Edmonton Oilers finally won a road game, but they may have lost Taylor Hall for a while.

Devan Dubnyk made 35 saves to earn his first victory of the season, and Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each had a goal and an assist in the first period to send Edmonton to a 3-1 win against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

Nugent-Hopkins assisted on Eberle's goal and scored into an empty net with 35 seconds remaining for a three-point day, helping the Oilers win away from Rexall Place for the first time in six tries this season. They are 2-6-1 overall and 1-3-1 on a five-game trip that ends Tuesday with a game against the Montreal Canadiens.

"The past few games we haven't supported our goaltenders too well, so we wanted to help him out even more coming into this game," Nugent-Hopkins said. "We probably could have been even better still, but luckily for us he stood on his head and battled hard there for us."

But injury to Hall's left knee tempered the good feelings in the Oilers' dressing room.

"I don't know the severity of it but our doctors will look at it and let us know," coach Dallas Eakins said. "I will say when a guy doesn't come back in a game it's usually something that's going to be more than a day or two, but I have no idea right now."

Hall was hit hard by Ottawa defenseman Eric Gryba in the second period. He returned to the ice briefly after serving a slashing penalty before going to the dressing room and did not return after that. He reportedly was wearing a brace on his knee after the game but was not using crutches.

"He's a big part of our team, plays a lot of minutes, but we're a team that has a lot of depth and a lot of skill so I think we have more than enough skill to step in," Eberle said.

Ottawa's Chris Neil ruined Dubnyk's shutout bid with his first goal of the season at 14:12 of the third period.

"It went up and then I came to the net and it was right there," Neil said. "I shoved my stick at it, it hits my shaft and then I lose it again and it hits his glove and in over top of him. So it's one of those things that a good bounce or a lucky bounce or whatever you call it, but we'll take it. Obviously it's frustrating that we didn't get the win but you try to make a game of it."

Dubnyk was more buoyed by his first win than disappointed about losing the shutout.

"It feels great," Dubnyk said. "It's funny, it's a weird bounce with five minutes to go and it's just one of those times where you say, 'No, not today. It ain't happenin'.'

"And the guys played real well, real hard the last four minutes. We did a good job, kind of chipping pucks past them, and they're down so they've got to take chances and we end up with an extra one."

Robin Lehner made 18 saves for Ottawa, which had won two in a row.

The Senators lost despite holding a 36-21 advantage in shots on goal. It was the first time Ottawa outshot an opponent since their season opener on Oct. 4, when they fired 46 shots in a 1-0 win in Buffalo.

"We're trying to make a conscious effort of shooting the puck," captain Jason Spezza said. "I missed the net way too many times tonight. We're putting pucks on net, we're doing what they're telling us to do and tonight we just couldn't put the puck in the net, for whatever reason, but we did a lot of better things tonight.

"We just have to get more pucks at him and get a little more traffic, probably."

Eberle opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 with Nail Yakupov at 2:15. After taking a pass from Nugent-Hopkins, he held the puck with defenseman Patrick Wiercioch back for Ottawa. Eberle deked Lehner and roofed a shot for his third goal of the season.

"The defenseman just kind of took Yak so it was basically a breakaway," Eberle said. "I saw that the goalie was out pretty far so I just tried to make a move and shoot quick, and it worked out."

Yakupov and Eberle had the assists on Nugent-Hopkins' goal at 10:29 of the first period, which gave Edmonton its second two-goal lead of the season. Lehner stopped Yakupov's shot but left a rebound for Nugent-Hopkins, who fired a shot inside the left post for his third goal.

Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan went to the dressing room with just over a minute left in the first period after colliding awkwardly with the goal post. He struggled to return to the bench but was back out to begin the second period.

The Oilers had an opportunity to increase their lead to three with a two-minute 5-on-3 advantage early in the third when Milan Michalek and Jared Cowen were called for separate interference penalties at 3:40. However, Ottawa's penalty-killers limited the Oilers to one shot on goal.

"It was good to see how calm the guys were after that," Nugent-Hopkins said. "We didn't get too much momentum off of it, and obviously not the goal to show, which would have been huge for us, but we stuck with it and we pulled out the two points."

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