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MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers at Senators

The Oilers conclude their Ontario back-to-back with a tilt against the Ottawa Senators

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers conclude an Ontario back-to-back with a match against the Ottawa Senators.

You can watch the game on Sportsnet West or listen on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED.

Read the game preview below and check back for our Morning Skate Report, lineup updates, videos and more.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Pre-Game at OTT 02.28.19

INSIDE THE OILERS

News and notes from the Oilers Dressing Room.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

KANATA, ON - There's no time to dwell on the Oilers most recent loss, a 6-2 drubbing versus the Maple Leafs on Wednesday, as the squad jumps right back into game action when they meet the Ottawa Senators Thursday at Canadian Tire Centre.

There are areas the Oilers want to improve after Wednesday's match, including their team discipline and effort in the faceoff circle, going 2-for-5 on the man advantage against the Maple Leafs and winning just 37 percent of their faceoffs. 

"A big part of it was penalties, number one," said Oilers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. "And number two, we lost almost all the faceoffs in the first ten minutes of the second period. 

"We never started with the puck."

Edmonton is 3-4-1 on the second night of a back-to-back this season and many players voiced the opinion that getting back on the ice is the best thing for the team.

"It's nice to get back on the horse again as quick as possible here," said Oscar Klefbom, who went minus-two and had five shots on goal in Wednesday's affair. 

"We played some good hockey last night but we gave it away in the second period. We played one bad period against a good team and it cost us."

A SENSE ON THE SENS

The Ottawa Senators are in a full-on rebuild mode, making four deals since Feb. 22 and trading impact players Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Dzingel. 

The youth movement is engaged in Canada's capital, as the club will have 15 picks in the first three rounds in the next three NHL Drafts. 

On the ice, plenty of Sens players have an opportunity to prove themselves.

"They've got speed and they've got skill," said Hitchcock. 

"Our obligation right now is to find our forecheck quickly, get pucks turned over and see if we can frustrate them by keeping them in their zone."

With the competition in the NHL seemingly tighter than ever, no team can sleep on their opposition.

"They lost three key players over the past few days but they're going to come out and play," said forward Alex Chiasson. 

"That's one thing in this League: It doesn't matter who you play any given night, every team has got a chance to win."

LINEUP NOTES

Hitchcock confirmed keeper Mikko Koskinen - who was pulled against Toronto after making 12 saves on 16 shots - will tend the twine in Ottawa. 

Up front, Hitchcock noted he will dole Sam Gagner out at centre with Brad Malone and Ty Rattie flanking him. Kyle Brodziak will draw out of the lineup.

On the back end, Hitchcock said he doesn't expect any changes.

Lines will be made apparent at warmups.

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

PREVIEW

OILERS (26-30-7) at SENATORS (22-36-5)

TV: 5:30 p.m. MST; Televised on Sportsnet West

Head-to-Head:

Tonight's game is the first of two meetings between the Oilers and Senators in the 2018-19 campaign. The two clubs will conclude their season series on March 23 at Rogers Place.

The Oilers and Sens split their season series last year, with Edmonton losing 6-1 in the first tilt then getting revenge with a 6-2 win over Ottawa later in the year.

Connor McDavid had two goals and five points in the two games against the Sens, while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Darnell Nurse each put up three points themselves.

Oilers team scope:

The Oilers were dropped by a score of 6-2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, in a game that saw Leon Draisaitl score his 39th of the season and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins net his 20th.

McDavid leads the club in points with 86, sitting third League-wide in scoring. Draisaitl's aforementioned 39 tucks lead the squad in that regard, while defenceman Oscar Klefbom tops the team in time on ice, averaging 24:54 per night.

With the loss, the Oilers snapped their four-game point streak and currently employ the sixth position in the Pacific Division, seven points out of the second wild card spot. 

Senators team scope:

The Senators are coming off their fifth loss in a row, being defeated 7-2 against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. The Sens are 31st overall in League standings with a 22-36-5 record and 49 points. The club is 3-7-0 in their last 10 games.

Defenceman Thomas Chabot heads Ottawa in scoring with 47 points in 55 matches. Rookie Brady Tkachuk tops his club in goals with 14 but Chabot, Bobby Ryan and Colin White each have 13.

By the Numbers:

The Oilers power play is clicking at 22.2 percent, tied for 10th in the League. ... Edmonton's penalty kill is 29th in the NHL with a 75.1 rate. ... The Oilers are 12-15-5 away from Rogers Place, while the Sens are 14-14-4 at Canadian Tire Centre. ... Ottawa allows 3.73 goals-against per game, which is good for most in the League alongside the Chicago Blackhawks, who also average 3.73 against. ... The Sens are 7-22-2 when their opponent scores first and 3-28-1 when trailing after 40 minutes.

Injury Report:

OILERS - Jesse Puljujarvi (lower body) is on IR; Jujhar Khaira (foot) is on IR.

SENATORS - Marian Gaborik (back) is on IR; Rudolfs Balcers (illness) is day-to-day; Clarke MacArthur (undisclosed) is on IR.

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

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