The Oilers won their third-straight game and first at home this season, downing Detroit 3-1 on Wednesday. There were some interesting moments, a highlight-reel goal and a 28-save night from Cam Talbot. A streak was snapped and an Alberta native got his first. Here are five things that make the list of observations.
1. STREAK SNAPPED
The Oilers came into tonight’s game with a cloud over their head when it came to playing the Detroit Red Wings.
Edmonton had beaten the Red Wings just twice in regulation in their previous 47 meetings. Detroit had earned at least a point against the Oilers in 29 of their last 30 games and hadn’t lost to Edmonton since February 4, 2012. The Oilers last win over Detroit in regulation was December 3, 2009.
The players talked before the game about ignoring those statistics because they hold no bearing on the current coaching staff or roster. They went out and performed that way in a 3-1 victory, following wins over Calgary and Vancouver.
2. FAST STARTS
Fast starts have been a common occurrence for the Oilers so far this season. In five of the first seven games, Edmonton has managed to score the game’s opening goal.
Tonight was the same story, with Mark Letestu capitalizing on a power play at 12:32 of the first period. Nail Yakupov set him up perfectly with Letestu planted at the top of the crease.
The Oilers record in games in which they score first this season is 3-2-0. All three of their wins have come in games in which they lit the lamp before the other team.
3. McDAVID DAZZLES
The Oilers drafted Connor McDavid first overall this year in the hopes that he’d become an offensive weapon. Through seven games, the rookie centre has delivered with six points, including four goals.
The 18-year-old centre scored his fourth of the season against Detroit, and it belongs on the highlight reel. McDavid had to shake off a Red Wings player before he finished a 2-on-1 rush by undressing goaltender Petr Mrazek.
That goal came moments after he set up Letestu on a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush, but the veteran couldn’t quite finish the play.
McDavid has points in three straight and four of the last five games. He is tied for second amongst NHL rookies in goals with New York Rangers centre Oscar Lindberg. Arizona’s Anthony Duclair leads the league with five.
It wasn’t just McDavid, however, as Head Coach Todd McLellan liked the entire line.
“That line played a very good game again tonight. A very good game,” he said.
4. LETESTU'S FIRST
Letestu opened scoring for the game, as well as for his career as an Oilers player. Acquired in free agency, the veteran centre’s goal in the first period was his first marker for the blue and orange in seven games.
Letestu is an Elk Point, AB native, which makes his goal for Edmonton that much sweeter.
“That’s part of what’s awesome being from Alberta, the opportunity to play for the Oilers,” said Letestu. “It’s something I take a lot of pride in. To be able to help the team out with a good goal tonight to get the team started feels pretty good.”
Letestu nearly potted a second one on a 2-on-1 feed from McDavid later in the game. He finished the night with three shots on goal in 13:40 of action.
5. YAK ATTACK
Like McDavid, Yakupov now has points in three straight and four of the last five. The 2012 first-overall pick set up Letestu’s goal with a nice feed out in front, giving the centre an easy power-play tally.
“Nail is a young guy but he’s played a few years in this league now,” said Letestu. “You can tell he’s starting to step up in a leadership role, as far as leading the team offensively. He’s kind of been a catalyst the last few games around the puck, getting shots off and making plays.”
Yakupov also set up McDavid’s goal with a nice play in his own end. Yakupov moved the puck up to Benoit Pouliot, who then hit McDavid for the aforementioned score.
“He’s responsible and I feel good about putting him on the ice in all situations. But it’s the three of them getting it done, it’s not the one individual,” McLellan said of Yakupov and his line.