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MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers at Blue Jackets

The Oilers play the second game of a back-to-back against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday

by Paul Gazzola & Jamie Umbach / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday in the second game of a back-to-back after losing 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday.

You can watch the game on Sportsnet 360 & One, listen live on the 630CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.

Read the Preview then check back following Tuesday's avails for the Morning Skate Report.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Pre-Game at CBJ 10.30.19

INSIDE THE OILERS

News, notes and updates from the Oilers dressing room.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

COLUMBUS, OH - A new day brings a new opportunity.

A new opportunity for the Oilers to get back into the win column, that is, after Edmonton was handed a 3-1 defeat from the Detroit Red Wings in the Motor City on Tuesday.

By their admission, both the players and Head Coach Dave Tippett are stressing the need for a strong start in tonight's tilt with the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

Last night, Edmonton gave up a pair of quick strikes in the first period and weren't able to climb out of the two-goal hole despite owning much of the third stanza with a 17-5 shot margin.

"They were quick. They were on loose pucks and we were a little slow to get on loose pucks," Tippett said of his team's opening performance versus Detroit.

"Especially when you're playing against desperate teams, you got to fight your way through and stay with the game. Not give momentum away. That's been a little bit of a concern."

DESPERATE MEASURES

An 8-4-1 record and first-place ranking in the Pacific Division doesn't exactly scream of a club in desperation mode but a 1-3-1 showing in the past five games isn't comforting, either.

Oilers Captain Connor McDavid said it himself following Tuesday's loss: "We need to be a desperate team. It needs to start now."

Tippett agreed with that sentiment Wednesday morning.

"That desperation has to be on our side," said the Oilers coach. "We talked about it before the game yesterday, we hadn't played very well in two of the last three games. 

"We should be the desperate team."

The Oilers are 5-0-0 this season when notching the first goal of the game.

"When you score first, everyone seems to have that juice," Zack Kassian said.

"We need to show that energy and get off to a good start."

DESPERATE MEASURES: PART II

Part of that desperation will have to come on the power play.

After starting the season 10-for-22 on the man advantage in their first seven outings of the year, the Orange & Blue have just one power-play goal in the last six, going 1-for-14.

"We talked about that as a group," Tippett said. "Find some different options. Instead of finding the nice goal all the time, you might have to find some hard goals."

Kassian, who has two assists in his last five games, wants to return to a simple game plan against Columbus.

"When the group isn't scoring as much as you'd like or individually, you just have to get pucks to the net," he said. 

"Funnel pucks to the net and everyone has to know on the ice that it's going to the net. That's normally how you break out of things like this."

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Zack Kassian 10.30.19

LINEUP NOTES

Tippett confirmed that a few Oilers have been cleared to play, which would result in some changes to the lineup.

"We've got a couple of people that are ready to go. So, there's a good chance we'll see some changes there," he said.

The bench boss also confirmed Mike Smith would start in goal.

The Oilers held an optional skate in the morning. Lines will be made apparent at warmups.

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

PREVIEW

OILERS (8-4-1) vs BLUE JACKETS (5-4-2)

TV: 5:30 p.m. MT; Televised on Sportsnet One & 360

Head-to-Head:

The Oilers and Blue Jackets will meet twice this season. After Wednesday's contest, the two clubs will have to wait until March 7 to conclude their season series at Rogers Place.

In both meetings last season, the Oilers were up to the task. Edmonton outscored Columbus 8-1 in respective 4-1 and 4-0 wins, with Leon Draisaitl doing the majority of the damage with a goal and five assists. Zack Kassian had two goals across both contests, and Mikko Koskinen helped secure both victories from between the pipes with 49 saves on 50 shots.

Oilers team scope:

A strong third period that saw the Oilers out-shoot the Detroit Red Wings 17-5 wasn't enough to complete the comeback on Tuesday in what concluded as a 3-1 road loss for the Orange & Blue.

The club quickly packed their bags and headed for Columbus, set to compete in the second of a back-to-back. This will mark the first back-to-back of seven on the season.

Despite Edmonton's loss to Detroit, the club remains atop the Pacific Division with an 8-4-1 record and 17 points, with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl pacing the scoring with 22 points apiece.

Blue Jackets team scope:

The Blue Jackets receive the Oilers for the second game of their back-to-back, keen to start a new point streak after having a six-game run (5-0-1) snapped at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers in a 7-4 loss on Saturday.

An important part of that run was the play of 21-year-old Pierre-Luc Dubois, who has five goals for the Jackets in his last eight games.

But Columbus' loss in the city of Brotherly Love included two more names in Ryan Murray and Alexandre Texier added to a growing injury list that includes alternate captain Brandon Dubinsky and Finnish blueliner Markus Nutivaara.

By the Numbers:

The Oilers are 5-0-0 when scoring first. ... Edmonton's road power play is fifth in the League with a 30 percent rate, going 6-for-20. ... The club is 22nd in faceoff percentage with a 48.1 percentage. ... The Oilers are fifth in blocked shots with 195. ... The team is sixth in giveaways with 164 but fourth in takeaways with 104. 

Columbus is 27th in goals for with 30 and 10th in goals against, allowing 39. ... The Blue Jackets have an 11.4 percent power-play percentage at the moment, going 4-for-35 this season. ... Columbus has let in three shorthanded goals against this year, which is tied for first in the NHL.

Injury Report:

OILERS - Joel Persson (concussion) is day-to-day; Adam Larsson (fibula) is on IR; Josh Archibald (foot fracture) is on IR; Joakim Nygard (ribs) is on IR.

BLUE JACKETS - Brandon Dubinsky (wrist) is on IR; Markus Nutivaara (lower body) is day-to-day; Alexandre Texier (knee) is on IR; Sonny Milano (mouth) is day-to-day; Ryan Murray (fractured hand) is on IR.

-- Jamie Umbach, EdmontonOilers.com

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