The Oilers broke through their scoring slump and piled it on the visiting Arizona Coyotes, 5-2
/ EdmontonOilers.com Head Writer
EDMONTON, AB - An offensive explosion was just what the doctor ordered as Edmonton broke through their scoring slump and got their first regulation win since January 26 - a 5-2 decision over the Arizona Coyotes.
Coming into the night, the orange and blue had just two goals - not including a shootout tally - in their previous four games.
It didn't start well for the Oilers, with the desert dogs striking first at 10:44 of the opening period. A shot through traffic was redirected by Josh Jooris, on the doorstep, and flipped over the pad of Cam Talbot.
In the first intermission, Head Coach Todd McLellan spoke with his team about their slow start and the message was received. It wasn't so much about the technical side of things, but more about the belief system of a team that had dropped some recent opportunities.
"We hadn't won a lot of games and I didn't feel like the group believed they were going to win tonight," said McLellan. "I didn't feel like they believed in their new linemates. And we just talked about it a little bit. I told them they were a top-10 team for the last three months, and usually the Stanley Cup champ comes from the top 10 teams. They kind of perked up. They hadn't thought of it that way."
McLellan said the team went through their scoring chances in their recent losses and showed them they were doing some good things.
"You can't beat yourselves up all the time," the bench boss explained. "I just tried to get them to believe a little bit again."
McLellan's intermission chat worked.
Edmonton bagged the equalizer at 2:51 of the second. Leon Draisaitl potted his 21st of the season, burying a second-chance backhand on the power play. Milan Lucic and Oscar Klefbom each recorded an assist.
Just 31 seconds later, the Oilers took a 2-1 lead thanks to the fourth line. Matt Hendricks got greasy and hacked in a loose puck at the top of the crease. Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett challenged for goaltender interference, but it was deemed a good goal.
Iiro Pakarinen and Mark Letestu each recorded an assist on the Hendricks tally, with Pakarinen's coming in his season debut. The Oilers winger had missed every game prior with a knee injury.
Pakarinen was named player of the game by his teammates in the dressing room and McLellan said the winger provided a spark.
In sticking with the quick-goal theme, the Coyotes tied the game at 3:33 of the middle frame, just 11 seconds following Hendricks' goal. It was Martin Hanzal who buried his 14th of the season to make it a 2-2 score.
With 10:15 remaining in the second period, Edmonton got a 5-on-3 power play for 1:02 with Luke Schenn in the box for interference and then Alex Goligoski joining him for a delay of game penalty.
The Oilers struck with 23 seconds left on the 5-on-3. Letestu buried his sixth power-play goal of the season, one-timing a sauce pass from Connor McDavid. Draisaitl picked up the second assist.
Time ran out on the second penalty, but the Oilers had their 3-2 lead, and their power play, which had gone 0-for-12 in their last four games, had two markers in the first two periods.
At 12:13 of the second period, Klefbom took his first penalty of the season - holding against Max Domi. He had gone 56 games without one. Edmonton managed to kill off the penalty and had two 2-on-1 chances, shorthanded, but were unable to capitalize.
Klefbom redeemed himself with a goal at 2:43 of the third to put Edmonton up 4-2. Anton Slepyshev zipped a cross-ice pass to set up the activating d-man, who potted his ninth. Draisaitl recorded his second assist and third point of the night with the other helper.
"That was really nice," Klefbom said of Slepyshev's pass. "I didn't know he'd see me over there. I thought he was going to shoot for far pad but I was wide open and couldn't miss."
Patrick Maroon buried the dagger fifth goal at 6:29 of the third on another greasy tally, as he used his big body to get his stick on a rebound at the top of the crease. The goal was his 20th of the season, and second in the last two games. Klefbom and McDavid each got the helpers.
With his assist, Klefbom moved to three points on the night and 23 on the season - a new career high. It is the first three-point game of the Swede's career.
"I still think I have a little more (offence) to give," said Klefbom. "Obviously, it feels really good after a night like this. I'm playing some power play minutes and right now I have a lot of confidence, so I'm happy."
Edmonton notched their 30th win of this campaign and has a chance to make that 31 when they host the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night at 7pm MT. The game can be seen on Sportsnet West and heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.