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FIVE THINGS: Nilsson stars in win

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers managed to knock off the Dallas Stars (not an easy feat) and get their second win in a row. Here are five things to take from the 2-1 OT decision.

1. NILSSON SENSATIONAL

There could be five things from this game all about Anders Nilsson. The Oilers look like they have themselves at least one very good starting option in net with the way Nilsson has played in recent games.

Nilsson was nothing short of brilliant against Dallas, making 42 saves in a 2-1 overtime win over one of the league’s best. He limited a Dallas team that came into the day leading the NHL in scoring (3.50 goals per game) to just one.

He had to be sharp from the opening minutes, denying a couple breakaways by Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin (no scoring scrubs). He also gloved a Seguin shot in overtime that could have ended the game. But those were just a few of Nilsson’s finer moments in a game he can build off of.

Nilsson has shouldered a heavy workload recently, making his 12th start in 15 games on Friday night. His save percentage in his last seven games is .947.

Against the Stars, Nilsson not only kept the Oilers in the game, he stole it for them.

As Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan said after the game, “That was a hell of a performance.”

2. MOVING ON UP

It’s been an impressive climb for Jujhar Khaira.

The Oilers prospect went from a predominantly fourth-line role in his first professional season, to seeing first-line and top-six minutes in Bakersfield this season, to playing with Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl against the Dallas Stars in the NHL.

“It was fun, a lot of fun,” said Khaira. “They make plays consistently and I just try to create space and play smart for them and just try to get open. I got a couple chances with them and it was fun.”

The game didn’t start with Khaira on that line, he was placed there by McLellan.

“I thought he provided them some size and space,” said the coach. “He handles the puck well. I think he’s getting better as time goes on. We shuffled the lines around a little bit. We had to do something to create some type of urgency and I thought we woke a few people up, got better nights from others later on in the game.”

While toiling away on the fourth line early in his pro career, Khaira tried to make the best of every chance. His stint with Draisaitl and Hall may not last long, but he’s learned a thing or two about making the most of opportunities.

“At the end of the day, I thought I put everything into every game on the fourth line,” said Khaira. “Every chance I got, I just tried to make the most of it. Those chances are hard to come by and when you get one, you’ve got to make the most of it. I try to do that.”


3. DRAISAITL DRIVING

There was a point in the game against Dallas that Draisaitl showed what a big, strong forward can do for the Oilers. At around the 11-minute mark of the second period, Draisaitl bullied his way past Patrik Nemeth as he drove the net. He drew a penalty as well.


In overtime, he’d have his chances and would eventually assist on the game-winning goal.

“I challenged Leon about halfway through the game to get going, because I think there’s more there and he started to get going,” said McLellan. “In open ice, he had great poise to make the pass (in overtime).”

4. TAYLOR'S 10TH

Hall’s goal may fly a bit under the radar after the way Nilsson performed, but it was a big one.

Hall chipped the puck past Nemeth and buried his team-leading 10th goal of the season to spot Edmonton an early 1-0 advantage.

5. EBERLE GETS ONE

November 20 doesn’t seem that long ago, but for Oilers winger Jordan Eberle, that was the last time he scored a goal or recorded a point coming into the game against Dallas. It likely seemed like an eternity for the winger who is one of Edmonton’s more dynamic offensive weapons.

Although he has potted two shootout goals in the last week, he was still searching for one in regulation or overtime.

His drought ended Friday night as he fired home the game-winning goal in 3-on-3 OT.

Eberle says he doesn’t think he’s ever had the puck roll on him so much in one game. He couldn’t capitalize on a 2-on-1 rush and had a couple other grade-A chances. He got the one that mattered though as he gave Edmonton their second-straight win.

“My last three games, I’ve felt like I’ve got a lot of chances,” said Eberle. “I’m a big believer that you can keep creating as much as you can out there and eventually something has got to go and it will just roll from there.”
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