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Oilers' Hall skates, not ready to return vs. Senators

by Derek Van Diest / NHL.com

SENATORS (7-4-4) at OILERS (6-9-1)

TV: RDS2, TSN5, SNOL

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers left wing Taylor Hall skated with the team Thursday morning for the first time since sustaining a knee injury, but will not be in the lineup against the Ottawa Senators.

Hall was injured crashing into the net in a 3-2 loss against the Vancouver Canucks on Nov. 1 and missed the Oilers' recent five-game road trip.

"My biggest thing since I got hurt is when I'm ready to play, I'll play," Hall said. "If that's two games from now, fine; if that's four games from now, then fine. When I'm ready to play and I'm confident in my knee, then I'll play."

The Oilers have lost three of five games without Hall in the lineup. Left wing Benoit Pouliot has been moved up to fill the void on the Oilers' top line alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. Pouliot has two goals and an assist in his past two games.

"Pouliot has worked extremely hard right from the start of the season," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "There are a million different ways you can contribute on a team. We signed Ben because he can close on the puck and he has an excellent stick. We thought we needed more of that and he's brought that.

"Now playing with those guys he's filled in greatly for a pair of shoes that are very big in Taylor Hall."

The Oilers have struggled recently in their first home game coming off a road trip of two games or longer. They were 3-7-0 in their first game back last season and are 0-1-0 this season.

"When you've been on a long trip through multiple time zones, you're coming back, you're clearly tired, you're clearly dehydrated and you're trying to figure out what time zone you're in," Eakins said. "Our start [Thursday] will be very important. If we can't get our legs underneath us quickly it's going to be a hard night just to get into the flow. So we want to get off on this homestand on the right foot, and we planted the seeds mentally for a good start [Thursday]."

For the Senators, the game against the Oilers is the second of a three-game Western Canada road trip. They lost 3-2 in overtime against the Canucks on Tuesday.

"The biggest thing about Edmonton is that our record against them isn't very good," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "I know in the last year they've given us everything we can handle and have beaten us. We have tons of respect for the way they can play the game and how fast they can play the game. We know we have a difficult opponent for us [Thursday] and we have to come in prepared to work and skate with them."

Ottawa is winless in its past three games. The Senators lost both games against the Oilers last season.

"They play that run-and-gun style where they want to trade chances," Senators right wing Bobby Ryan said. "I think they do well against the Eastern Conference teams because a lot of teams in the East play that way. We're not quite one of those teams, but for us you just have to take away their time and space and not let them wind up. When they get wound up and they have some speed coming at you, they have some pretty dangerous players."

Goaltender Ben Scrivens will start for the Oilers. Craig Anderson will start in goal for the Senators.

Here are the projected lineups:

SENATORS

Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Bobby Ryan

Milan Michalek - Mika Zibanejad - Alex Chiasson

Mike Hoffman - Curtis Lazar - Mark Stone

Zack Smith - David Legwand - Chris Neil

Chris Phillips - Erik Karlsson

Jared Cowen - Cody Ceci

Mark Borowiecki - Eric Gryba

Craig Anderson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Erik Condra, Patrick Wiercioch, Colin Greening

Injured: Marc Methot (back)

OILERS

Benoit Pouliot - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

David Perron - Mark Arcobello - Nail Yakupov

Teddy Purcell - Leon Draisaitl - Iiro Pakarinen

Matt Hendricks - Boyd Gordon - Jesse Joensuu

Nikita Nikitin - Mark Fayne

Andrew Ference - Jeff Petry

Keith Aulie - Justin Schultz

Ben Scrivens

Viktor Fasth

Scratched: Luke Gazdic, Martin Marincin, Oscar Klefbom

Injured: Taylor Hall (knee)

Status report: Lazar is playing his first NHL game in Edmonton; he helped the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League to a Memorial Cup championship last season. … Gazdic was recalled by the Oilers after a two-week conditioning assignment with the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League and skated with the team for the first time Thursday. He will not be in the lineup against the Senators.

Who's hot: Nugent-Hopkins had two goals and three assist during the Oilers' five-game road trip. … Stone has two goals in his past two games. ... Turris has two goals and one assist in two games.

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