Riley Sheahan collected a career-high four points on Saturday afternoon as the Oilers claimed a vital two points in the Pacific Division race with a 7-3 win over Arizona
EDMONTON, AB - No easy games in the Pacific Division.
That's been the message in the Oilers locker room, as meaningful games have come thick and fast with the division's top five teams separated by only two points.
You're scrounging for scraps every night, especially with the Desert Dogs on the prowl.
The Oilers went in for the kill from the onset of a 7-3 rolling of the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday afternoon, claiming a vital two points to enter the bye week and NHL All-Star break on a winning note.
The Oilers wage battle in the Battle of Alberta on January 29 after the bye week. The game can be seen on Sportsnet and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. Puck drop is 7:08 p.m. MT.
"It's really big," Josh Archibald, who notched a goal and assist, said post-game. "Especially going into the break, it's a good feeling and everyone's happy."
The tenacious two of Riley Sheahan and Josh Archibald, though split on separate lines, combined for seven points as Riley Sheahan posted a career-high four-point afternoon with a goal and three assists.
"It makes it more fun," Sheahan said. "You get some confidence, and it's fun to be out there in the offensive zone. I think just supporting our top guys, they carry so much of a heavy load on their shoulders. It's nice to provide some secondary scoring and I think we've been doing a good job of that lately."
Smith stopped 25 of 28 shots for his fifth-straight victory, helping the Oilers improve to 6-1-1 in January and claim a share of the lead in the Pacific Division with a 26-18-5 record and 57 points.
Josh Archibald kicked off a three-goal opening frame for the Oilers shorthanded at just 3:56 when he battled to pick up Riley Sheahan's clearance and earn the breakaway, tucking his third goal in four games through the wickets of Antti Raanta for only the second Oilers shortie of the season.
Sheahan notched his second assist when Sam Gagner banked in his effort from the goal line before Kailer Yamamoto got the last touch on a puck that bobbled in off Raanta for his third goal of the campaign and a 3-0 lead for the Oilers after 20 minutes.
"We came out with purpose tonight," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We came out knowing we had to play well this game going into the break. There were things we did in the game that our group has been talking about as keys to us playing well. We've done a pretty good job at them, and tonight was a good example."
The Coyotes netminder was the lone wolf on the other end of the Oilers pack mentality as the Oilers continued pressing forward in the second period.
Captain Connor McDavid didn't need much space on the power play to bury his 26th of the season short side past Raanta after Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins orchestrated the build-up.
Joakim Nygard's third of the year off Sheahan's career-high third assist of the afternoon made it a five-spot for the Oilers before Taylor Hall eventually broke Mike Smith's shutout 31 seconds later.
A promotion to the top line for Archibald alongside McDavid and James Neal continued to prove bountiful for the forward when he returned the favour from a cross-ice pass from McDavid a game prior by setting up the captain on a similar play for his second of the game after Neal provided the secondary helper.
"I think it's really big," Archibald said of the balance throughout the lineup. "You look at the start of the year when our big guys were scoring all the goals, and there were games where everybody needed to chip in."
"This is a big stretch for us coming down here," Archibald said. "I think having everybody playing well, it's good."
Sheahan made it a career night with an empty-netter, with Archibald setting his partner up for his fourth point of the day to cap off a 7-3 victory.
The Oilers will have to wait 10 days for a return to action when they wage war in the Battle of Alberta on Wednesday, January 29.
"Any time you can get a break, we'll take it," Tippett said. "It's a good feeling going into the break. We've had a good run here since that first game after Christmas, so it's been a good part of the schedule for us. The way we've played is pretty good, so the guys will get a break and then we're right into the stretch drive."
"We know that every game is ultra-important, so the rest will do us good."