The Oilers receive a combined shutout from Stuart Skinner and Dylan Wells, along with goals from James Neal and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, in a 2-0 pre-season debut win over Winnipeg
EDMONTON, AB - Off to the races.
Goaltenders Stuart Skinner and Dylan Wells combined for a 25-save save shutout on Monday night, with the duo of James Neal and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins doing the heavy lifting up front with the goals needed to help the Oilers start their pre-season schedule with a 2-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets.
The Oilers pre-season schedule resumes Tuesday as the club heads to Vancouver to face the Canucks. The game can be seen on Sportsnet One, and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. Puck drop is at 8:08 PM MST.
"I felt good," Skinner said. "The whole team played well defensively, they didn't get a ton of chances, but I think they got a few early on and we tightened it up. It wasn't just me - we played a really good team game."
'The Real Deal' Neal tallied his first of the pre-season to open the scoring in the first period before Nugent-Hopkins added all the insurance needed in the middle frame with 15.4 seconds on the clock.
"It's going to take some time, but I thought Nuge was real good tonight," Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett said post-game of the forward two-some. "Neal's an opportunistic guy, he's looking to score, and hopefully he gets a lot like those ones tonight."
Defencemen Joel Persson and Oscar Klefbom displayed their potential as a pairing, recording two assists each.
"I thought he played a solid game," Klefbom said of his Swedish counterpart. "It's fun playing with another Swede. It's going to take some time getting some chemistry going, but I think we're off to a good start and you can really tell what kind of potential he has on the ice."
An early Jets offensive-zone faceoff handed the visitors a dangerous chance when the puck popped out to an open Jack Roslovic inside the hash marks, but the hometown netminder Skinner was able to drop to the butterfly fast enough to quell the threat.
A hard pursuit from Alex Chiasson halfway through the frame led to a turnover that was gathered by Jujhar Khaira before being returned to Chiasson in front to fire the first significant attack for the Oilers the way of Jets goaltender Eric Comrie.
Neal would get off the mark early in his Oilers career early, albeit in pre-season, to put his new club ahead with 4:12 on the clock in the opening frame.
Persson's blocked attempt from the point fell kindly for the forward in front of goal to slide a turn-around shot off the skate of a Jets defender and beyond the goal line to give the Oilers a 1-0 advantage at the break.
"Offensive players love to score points, doesn't matter if it's a pre-season game or practice," Persson said. "It's good for confidence to make plays and have some shots on net."
Skinner was sharp in goal, turning away all 10 shots faced in the first period.
Nugent-Hopkins solidified a good day at the office for the line of Neal, Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner after the longest-tenured Oiler put a backhand around Comrie from the left of goal to double the Oilers lead with 15.4 seconds remaining in the middle stanza.
The Oilers carried the play the rest of the way, receiving stalwart defending from the blueline that complimented strong goaltending to post their first pre-season victory of '19-20.
"It's early, the game was a bit scrambly, but I liked what our D-men did. I thought (William) Lagesson was strong, (Evan) Bouchard was solid, I thought (Matt) Benning was really good, and both of the young goalies were sharp. All in all, it's a good start."
The schedule waits for no one, as the Oilers quickly turn towards a road tilt in Vancouver against the Canucks on Tuesday night.