The Oilers begin their four-game road trip and a three-game stay in New York against the Islanders on Tuesday
Ryan Frankson & Jamie Umbach
The Oilers are in New York to face the Islanders on Tuesday - their first game of a four-game road trip and a three-game stay in New York where they'll play the Islanders, New Jersey Devils, and New York Rangers.
The game can be seen on Sportsnet Oilers and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630CHED, at 5:00 PM MDT.
UNIONDALE, NY - The first road trip of a new season starts tonight against an old rival in an old arena that looks new again as the Oilers take on the New York Islanders at the refurbished Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum with two new players in the lineup.
Edmonton is coming off a pair of home victories over the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings to start the 2019-20 campaign, bringing a 2-0-0 record into this week's opening voyage that will see them tangle with the Islanders, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks.
The Islanders, meanwhile, are 1-1-0 to start the season, dropping their opener 2-1 to the Washington Capitals on Friday before rebounding with a 4-1 decision over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.
SHEAHAN SET TO DEBUT
The Oilers will have a new player in the mix up front tonight as centreman Riley Sheahan makes his season debut after missing the first two games with a concussion.
The 27-year-old pivot signed a one-year contract with Edmonton on Sept. 5 after he split last season between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers, tallying nine goals and 10 assists in 82 games.
"It's good to be back with the guys and on the ice with them… it's exciting," Sheahan said following the team's morning skate at the Coliseum. "I'm definitely really looking forward to tonight."
The 21st overall selection from the 2010 NHL Draft by Ken Holland's Detroit Red Wings will play on a line between Jujhar Khaira and Patrick Russell against an Islanders squad that finished fifth overall in the NHL last year with 103 points.
"He's a glue guy on a line like that," said Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett. "He's good on faceoffs, good on the penalty kill… We want them to be a real steady, good line with the ability to play in the offensive zone and ability to play against anybody."
The addition of Sheahan to the lineup will also alleviate some of the PK responsibilities for fellow forwards like Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who have logged 5:39 and 4:37 shorthanded TOI, respectively, in two games thus far.
"Those guys are beasts up front and we need them expending their energy offensively, scoring goals for us," said Sheahan, who won 54.9% of his faceoffs in his 33 games with Florida to close out last season. "I can step into the role of taking defensive zone draws and penalty killing to let them do their thing offensively."
Sheahan has played 447 career regular season games over eight seasons with Detroit, Pittsburgh and Florida, posting 58 goals, 91 assists and a 50.6% success rate in the faceoff circle.
MIKKO MAKES THE START
Another new look for the Oilers tonight will be between the pipes as Mikko Koskinen makes his first start of the season after Mike Smith back-stopped the team to a pair of wins.
Koskinen, who was drafted 31st overall by the Islanders in 2009, played his first NHL game at Nassau Coliseum on Feb. 8, 2011 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"Ten years went by pretty fast," Koskinen said of the span between his draft year and present day. "It's fun to be back here and feel the atmosphere."
The 31-year-old Finnish puck-stopper had an outstanding first half of the 2018-19 campaign, winning 11 of his first 14 decisions, and he'll be looking to replicate that early-season success starting tonight against his former team.
"I'm feeling really good, I'm confident and I'm excited to get going tonight," said Koskinen, who finished 27-22-6 with a 2.93 GAA last year. "Every day has been better and that's what matters."
"We need him to come in, be real solid for us and give us a chance to win," Tippett added, echoing his goaltender's sentiments.
With Sheahan making his Oilers debut and Koskinen set to start between the pipes, here is the remainder of the team's project lineup:
Draisaitl-McDavid-Kassian Jurco-RNH-Neal Khaira-Sheahan-Russell Nygard-Haas-Granlund Nurse-Bear Klefbom-Persson Russell-Benning Koskinen Smith
-- Ryan Frankson, EdmontonOilers.com
OILERS (2-0-0) at ISLANDERS (1-1-0)
TV: 5:00 p.m. MDT; Televised on Sportsnet Oilers
Tuesday's meeting between the Oilers and Islanders is the first of two between the clubs this season, with their final meeting slated for March 13 back at Rogers Place.
Leon Draisaitl scored twice in last season's series, and Connor McDavid scored the overtime goal back on February 21 in their last meeting to lift the Oilers to a 4-3 win.
Tonight's game swapped venues two weeks ago to Nassau Coliseum, the traditional home of the Islanders between 1972 and 2015, where the Oilers have a career record of 9-23-10. The Oilers last won there on December 14, 1999, and the last game contested between the two clubs at the Coliseum was played on February 10, 2015.
Oilers team scope:
The Oilers jetted off to New York with a 2-0 record after trailing at the 10-minute mark in both opening contests against the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings - only the third time in franchise history the club has achieved the feat and the first since 2005-06.
McDavid posted his eighth-career four-point night last time out on October 5 against Los Angeles on a night when Gaëtan Haas and Joakim Nygard combined for their first NHL points in a 6-5 comeback win over the Kings.
James Neal has two goals through his first two games as an Oiler, along with two wins for summer signee goaltender Mike Smith.
Islanders team scope:
The Islanders split their opening games losing 2-1 to the Washington Capitals before riding the momentum of a three-goal third period to down the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
The Isles offence got contributions from 10 separate players in the win over the Jets, receiving goals from Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and Anthony Beauvillier. Tomas Greiss was solid in his first start of the season with 35 saves.
By the Numbers:
Connor McDavid scored his 28th career game-winning goal in regular season on October 2 and ranks second among all players in that span behind only Brad Marchand (31)... Neal has 12 goals and 10 assists in 25 career games against the Islanders...
Bailey will play in his 800th career NHL game on Tuesday - all with the Islanders... The Islanders have eight-straight wins over the Oilers and a 10-0-2 record in their last 12 home games at the Coliseum...
OILERS - Adam Larsson (fractured right fibula) is on IR; Riley Sheahan (concussion protocol) is on IR; Logan Day (undisclosed) is on IR; Alex Chiasson (illness) is day-to-day; Josh Archibald (illness) is day-to-day.
ISLANDERS - Andrew Ladd (torn ACL) is on IR; Bode Wilde (ankle) is on IR; Noah Dobson (lower body) is day-to-day.