Connor McDavid scored the overtime winner in his return to the lineup and added an assist as the Oilers defeat the New York Islanders 4-3 in overtime.
EDMONTON, AB - After sitting out Tuesday's game with an illness, Connor McDavid's two-point night helped the Oilers break a five-game losing skid, as Edmonton defeats the New York Islanders 4-3 in overtime.
Sam Gagner also scored his first goal for the Oilers in nearly five years while Mikko Koskinen turned aside 20 of 23 shots on Thursday night. With the victory, the Oilers record improves to 25-29-6 as the team is now six points back of the second Wildcard spot in the Western Conference.
Leon Draisaitl's first period marker moves him into third in NHL goal scoring with 36, tying Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner. With a two-point performance of his own, Draisaitl has 12 goals and five assists in his last 12 games.
Koskinen improves to 15-14-3 as the netminder earned his first win since Jan. 16. He now owns a .906 Sv% and 2.87 GAA this season.
The Oilers close out a three-game homestand as they host the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. The game can be seen on Hockey Night in Canada and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. Puck drop is 8:08 p.m. MST.
"We're playing really well," said Oilers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock following the game. "There's a lot of continuity in our game. Getting this win will make it a lot easier for us (coaches) to sell some of the stuff we're asking (the players) to do because when there's no reward, you're going to start looking for it in a different way.
"Tonight was really good for us."
Added McDavid on earning the two points in the standings: "It's nice. We've been playing some good hockey but we just haven't found ways to win games. Tonight, we stuck with it all night long. I thought we were the better team all night and finally got rewarded at the end."
Islanders defenceman Johnny Boychuk got called for a delay of game penalty 1:14 into the game. Edmonton had four quality chances on the man-advantage but New York's answer, Robin Lehner, turned aside the first six shots he faced in rapid succession and weathered the storm early.
But a second power play shortly after ended with a different outcome for the Oilers.
Just 26 seconds into the man-advantage, McDavid found Draisaitl in the high slot for a deflection to score the game's opening goal. With the marker, Draisaitl has 12 goals in his last 12 contests.
McDavid's 28th powerplay point of the season is a new career-high for the Oilers captain, besting his old mark set in 2016-17. Both McDavid and Draisaitl now have seven points in eight career games against Long Island.
Soon after, Sam Gagner scored his first goal in an Oiler uniform since Apr. 4, 2014 off a nifty backhand pass from a streaking Tobias Rieder. It was the London, ON native's first point since being re-acquired by the Oilers and second goal of the season.
"I have a lot of great memories here and I'm hoping to build some new ones," said Gagner post-game. "It was a great play by Tobias there to find me on the back side. It was a good feeling.
After being outshot 10-2 in the first half of the opening frame, the Islanders began to show life and eventually diminished the Oilers lead as the period wore on.
Persistent in his effort, Anders Lee capitalized on a second-chance opportunity against a sprawling Mikko Koskinen. Lee's 21st of the season would fuel further momentum as the Islanders closed out the period with a pair of powerplay markers from Brock Nelson and Cal Clutterbuck.
"They're a veteran team and they're experienced. That's why they have the record they do," said Hitchcock. "They grind you down and they take the air out of your game and they take your energy. Then, you make a mistake."
Nelson's 5-on-3 goal was his 19th of the season and assisted by Pulock and former Oiler Jordan Eberle. The Islanders forward is now on the cusp of his fourth 20-goal season in five seasons.
Cal Clutterbuck did his best Draisaitl impersonation with just 11 seconds remaining in the period. The forward tipped a Pulock shot in the high slot, mirroring the opening goal of the game, giving New York momentum and a 3-2 lead heading into the middle frame.
"I was a little bit nervous when we went down 3-2 because we played so well and that was the first time I saw a flat line from us in the last eight games," said Hitchcock. "But we came back again. We stayed with it, we clawed and scratched.
The Oilers failed to capitalize on the team's third power play of the night in a defensively sound second period. The home club outshot the Islanders by an 8-4 margin as Lehner remained steady in the Islanders goal - the netminder had 21 saves through 40 minutes.
"He, to me, intimidates people," said Hitchcock. "He looks so calm. When you go back and look at this thing, there was 20 great scoring chances for us and he just doesn't get out of position."
He continued to shine for the visiting club in the third period, as the Oilers peppered him with 17 shots in the final 20 minutes. Coming into tonight's action, the Oilers averaged 38.3 shots per game in their last four games - the team finished with 41 shots on Thursday night.
However for Lehner, one of those 17 third period shots came off the stick of Oscar Klefbom, who buried the game's equalizer with just 2:52 remaining. The defenceman's fourth of the season - and first goal since Dec. 5 against St. Louis - sent the Oilers to overtime for the second straight game thanks to late-game heroics.
"I had a great chance against these guys last time, so it was nice for me to get some revenge on Lehner," said Klefbom. "We played way too good not to win this game. We did a lot of good stuff out there. Obviously, they got a couple of goals on the power play but overall, I think we played a solid game.
Another valiant effort to close out regulation salvaged at least a point - and in this case two - for Edmonton.
"We're showing great character right now by battling back late in the games and getting important goals," said Rieder following the match. "We just need to find a way to start better. Sometimes we start a little slow but we've been playing really well in the third period lately. We just have to find a way to play like that."
In the extra frame, the Oilers formidable overtime duo iced the game as McDavid capped off a triumphant return with his 32nd goal of the season, snapping the club's five-game losing streak (0-4-1) and earning Edmonton's first win on home ice since Jan. 14. Draisaitl's assist gives the forward 73 points this season as he closes in on his career-high 77 points ('16-17) with 22 games remaining.
"Leon and I haven't been great in overtimes of late actually," said McDavid post-game. "We were definitely due for one and I'm happy he was able to find me and I was able to finish it."
The Oilers look to string back-to-back wins for the first time since Jan. 16 when they host the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.