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Oilers offense regaining confidence

Fourteen goals by 10 different players in past two games gives support to Connor McDavid

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

EDMONTON -- The arena horn and the goal songs have been getting quite a workout during the past two NHL games at Rogers Place.

The Edmonton Oilers have caught their stride again, scoring 14 goals in two wins, 7-1 against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday and 7-4 against the Boston Bruins on Thursday.

The best takeaway for the Oilers, apart from reaching 83 points (37-24-9) and leap-frogging the Calgary Flames (82 points, 39-27-4) into third place in the Pacific Division, is that captain Connor McDavid had one of those 14 goals.

As with most teams and their top scorers, the fretting among Oilers faithful has been particularly acute during some of the rough patches of the season where McDavid seems to be the only one generating offense.

McDavid had a goal Tuesday and three assists Thursday and with 79 points (24 goals, 55 assists) is tied for the NHL scoring lead with Boston's Brad Marchand (37 goals, 42 assists).

Video: BOS@EDM: McDavid, Maroon combine for nifty goal

"It's important now and it'll be important down the stretch to know that there are others that can step [up] and get it done," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "Different power-play units, different lines, unusual suspects if you want to call them that, have found a way to contribute and it takes a little pressure off Connor and Leon (Draisaitl) and Patty (Patrick Maroon), that line."

The Oilers had 10 different players score in their past two games and 14 players had at least one point.

"Guys can feel good about themselves and really positive moving forward down the stretch," McDavid said. "It's important guys are feeling good and confident. These last two games have done that for some guys."

The feeling good has extended deep into the Oilers roster, reaching even struggling left wing Benoit Pouliot, who scored in consecutive games this week after having not scored since Dec. 8. He has seven goals on the season.

"The offense has been good for sure," Pouliot said Thursday. "We don't want to get away from our defensive game. On offense, we've got so many weapons up front that can do that every night. If we take care of our zone and check the way we're supposed to check, we'll be fine.

"Goals are nice but you're not going to win all the time like that. Once or twice that happens and after that it's a grind."

Video: BOS@EDM: Nugent-Hopkins banks the puck past Rask

Whenever McDavid has help, the Oilers are usually on the right track.

Maroon was such a leader Thursday, scoring goals 59 seconds apart in the game's first 5:28.

He has five goals in two games against Boston this season and after his two, plus a couple of heavy body checks on Thursday, three Bruins -- Kevan Miller, Zdeno Chara and Adam McQuaid -- challenged him to fight. Maroon dropped the gloves with McQuaid late in the first period.

Maroon has 24 goals this season and has been a good fit with the speedy McDavid.

His second goal Thursday was a case of going to the net and being ready for the quick-hands play that the Oilers captain made to the edge of the crease.

Video: BOS@EDM: Maroon buries Eberle's slick feed for PPG

"We have four lines that are going," Maroon said. "If it's not the first two lines, the third and fourth lines are chipping away, giving us huge goals, goals we need. It's good to see going down the stretch that you have four lines that can dictate the play and can chip in some offense."

Certainly, the Oilers took advantage of some sub-par goaltending from both the Stars and Bruins this week, and caught the Bruins on the second night of back-to-back games in Alberta. They defeated the Flames 5-2 on Wednesday.

But strong teams take advantage of just such openings, and in doing so the Oilers found confidence in other areas.

They seem to have found a combination for an effective third line, with Pouliot looking energized after missing eight games (Feb. 18 to March 7) with a lower-body injury. He's playing with center David Desharnais, traded to Edmonton prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, and right wing Zack Kassian.

"Davey is a hell of a passer, and me and [Kassian], we're skating up and down [the wings] trying to make plays," Pouliot said.

Edmonton even held the upper hand on Thursday against the League's No. 1 penalty-killing team, the Bruins, moving the puck quickly and precisely in scoring three power-play goals on six opportunities.

Video: BOS@EDM: Draisaitl beats Khudobin following turnover

With the Stanley Cup Playoffs less than a month away, all of those good signs have been welcome in Edmonton. Worry had been increasing because the Oilers had been sluggish at times since the All-Star break. They are 9-9-1 since Jan. 31.

"[The fast start against Boston] gave us a little momentum, got them on their heels and made them adjust some of their lines and combinations," McLellan said. "We're happy with that -- back-to-back games with seven spots doesn't happen very often. I didn't think that would happen this morning, but it's nice."

McDavid remains the leader but the Oilers are less of a one-man show than a week ago.

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