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Oilers, eager to break three-game slide, host Devils

by Derek Van Diest /

DEVILS (10-7-1) at OILERS (6-12-1)


EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers are desperate for a win against the New Jersey Devils on Friday with a season-long, five-game road trip up next on their schedule.

But Oilers coach Todd McLellan is not putting extra importance in the game despite losing three straight and five of the past six.

"This is Game 20, it's big," McLellan said. "Game 21 is big, Game 22 is big. It would be great to have a positive result heading out on the road, but we're not just going to hang our hat on that. We want the reward for the effort that we will put in tonight. We want to get an honest effort, cut our mistakes down by a few, try and win the special-teams battle and look up at the end of the night and see what the score is. That will be the approach."

Edmonton lost 4-3 in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday. It was the Oilers' sixth one-goal loss this season.

"We are doing a lot of the things that we need to, in order to be successful, but it's time to win hockey games," Oilers forward Matt Hendricks said. "There is a parity in this League, it's hard to win hockey games and it doesn't matter which opponent you're playing against. We need to figure out ways to win or we're going to be long behind the eight ball."

Edmonton expects a tough challenge from the Devils.

New Jersey is an upstart team that has exceeded expectations early this season.

"I think they're a dangerous club because they don't beat themselves," McLellan said. "They're positionally sound, their special teams are very good and they get goaltending most nights."

The Devils lost 3-2 at the Calgary Flames on Tuesday in the first of a three-game Western Canada road trip. They won four of five prior to their game against the Flames.

"We've become a close-knit group, and when you have that camaraderie in your locker room, guys really play hard for one another and that gives you a chance to be able to win games and continue to get better," Devils coach John Hynes said. "From that, we've been fairly consistent in the way we've been able to play night in and night out."

Backup goaltender Keith Kinkaid will make his fourth start of the season in place of Cory Schneider. Kinkaid's last start was on Nov. 8, when he made 28 saves in a 4-3 win against the Vancouver Canucks.

"For us, it's been more about the right times in the schedule and the right games to get him [Kinkaid] in, particularly here in the first 20 games," Hynes said. "I think Keith understands what his role is, but he can play in this League and our team has lots of confidence in him."

Goaltender Anders Nilsson will make his second consecutive start for Edmonton. Nilsson has started four of the past five games for the Oilers ahead of Cam Talbot.

Here are the projected lineups:


Mike Cammalleri - Adam Henrique - Lee Stempniak

Sergey Kalinin - Travis Zajac - Kyle Palmieri

Jiri Tlusty - Jacob Josefson - Jordin Tootoo

Bobby Farnham - Stephen Gionta - Brian O'Neill

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson

John Moore - Damon Severson

Jon Merrill - David Schlemko

Keith Kinkaid

Cory Schneider

Injured: Tuomo Ruutu (foot), Patrik Elias (knee)

Scratched: Eric Gelinas, Stefan Matteau


Taylor HallLeon DraisaitlTeddy Purcell

Benoit PouliotRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle

Matt HendricksMark LetestuNail Yakupov

Lauri KorpikoskiAnton Lander - Iiro Pakarinen

Darnell NurseEric Gryba

Oscar KlefbomMark Fayne

Brandon DavidsonGriffin Reinhart

Injured: Connor McDavid (collarbone), Justin Schultz (back), Rob Klinkhammer (leg), Luke Gazdic (illness), Andrej Sekera (illness)

Scratched: Andrew Miller, Andrew Ference

Status report: Sekera is expected to miss his first game of the season with the flu. Sekera is the third Oilers player to miss a game due to illness. Pouliot and Nugent-Hopkins each sat out with the flu earlier in the season. Gryba will take Sekera's place in the lineup. … Cammalleri said he was feeling better after battling the flu the past few days. He has not missed a game this season.

Who's hot: Draisaitl has three goals and two assists in his past four games. … Hall has two goals and three assists in his past four games. … Farnham has scored a goal in each of his past two games. … Stempniak has a goal and two assists in his past two games.

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