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Oilers sticking with Nilsson in net against Stars

by Derek Van Diest

STARS (20-5-1) at OILERS (9-15-2)


EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers goaltender Anders Nilsson will make his fourth consecutive start and eighth in the past nine games Friday against the Dallas Stars.

Nilsson made his Oilers debut in a 4-2 loss at the Stars on Oct. 13, making 48 saves.

"I think I've developed in a few areas since then," Nilsson said. "I've adapted to the North American style of hockey and I've gotten a little more comfortable out there. I've played a few more games and I definitely feel more comfortable. Every goalie likes to play a lot of games and play consistently; I feel it helps mentally and it helps prepare going into the games."

Nilsson, 25, a native of Lulea, Sweden, played with AK Bars Kazan of the Kontinental Hockey League in 2014-2015. He was selected by the New York Islanders in the 2009 NHL Draft and spent three seasons in the organization before going to the KHL.

Nilsson signed a one-year contract with Edmonton this offseason and has taken over the No. 1 duties ahead of Cam Talbot.

"He has a high confidence level, he's big, is challenging [shooters] and the team feels good about him," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "He played against this team [Stars] last time and was exceptional. You might review the goals and say they got one by him from the corner, but the other 48 saves he was very sharp. I think our group feels good about him right now as he does himself."

The Oilers (9-15-2) are looking to win consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 21, when they won their third in a row. The Oilers defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2 in a shootout Wednesday.

The Stars (20-5-1) won 4-2 at the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday in the third of a four-game road trip. Dallas did not hold a morning skate Friday.

"They [Stars] are a very good team, they're one of the best teams in the NHL right now," Nilsson said. "It's going to be a big test for us and the whole team, and we really need to put our best effort tonight to have a chance to beat them."

Nilsson is 6-7-1 with a 2.63 goals-against average and .915 save percentage this season. He made 38 saves in the win against Boston. Friday is the second of a five-game homestand for Edmonton.

"They do have firepower," McLellan said of the Stars. "They can skate. Their skill has some size, they get a lot from the back end [defense] and they're obviously extremely confident when it comes to offense. They've only played five games all year when they've scored two or fewer goals. They're almost counting on scoring in that 3-4 range. You don't stop Dallas, you try to limit them."

Stars goaltender Antti Niemi is expected to start against the Oilers in the second of back-to-back games.

Here are the projected lineups:


Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Sharp

Mattias Janmark - Jason Spezza - Patrick Eaves

Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Valeri Nichushkin

Colton Sceviour - Vernon Fiddler - Ales Hemsky

Alex Goligoski - John Klingberg

Johnny Oduya - Jordie Benn

Jamie Oleksiak - Patrik Nemeth

Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen

Injured: Jason Demers (upper body)

Scratched: Travis Moen, Jyrki Jokipakka


Taylor HallLeon DraisaitlJordan Eberle

Iiro PakarinenRyan Nugent-HopkinsTeddy Purcell

Matt HendricksMark LetestuLauri Korpikoski

Luke GazdicAnton LanderJujhar Khaira

Darnell NurseAndrej Sekera

Oscar KlefbomMark Fayne

Justin Schultz - Eric Gryba

Injured: Connor McDavid (fractured clavicle), Rob Klinkhammer (leg), Nail Yakupov (ankle sprain), Benoit Pouliot (lower body), Brandon Davidson (wrist)

Scratched: Andrew Ference

Status report: Pouliot is still out with an injury sustained in a 3-0 loss at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday and will miss his second straight. … Davidson has a sore wrist and is questionable. Klinkhammer took the morning skate, but is not ready to get back in the lineup.

Who's hot: Seguin has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his past 10 games. Spezza has three goals in his past four games. … Hendricks and Letestu each had a goal and assist in the win against Boston.

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