EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers host the New Jersey Devils, hoping to cool off the visiting squad who enter Edmonton on a three-game winning streak and sit fourth in the National Hockey League overall standings with 18 points and a 9-2-0 record.
"Fast," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan of the opposition. "They're quick, they get on top of you. They play a game with a lot of pace and energy. That's reflective even in their penalty kill, they have four shorthanded goals."
New Jersey is led by former Oilers forward Taylor Hall and rookie defenceman Will Butcher, who have 15 and 11 points, respectively. Also included in their firepower is 2017 first-overall selection Nico Hischier, who has two goals and five assists in the first 11 games of his career.
Anton Slepyshev skated on the second line with Milan Lucic and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins this morning.
"I still think we need more from him, doesn't matter what we've seen or haven't seen lately," said McLellan about the Russian winger. "When he's effective, he's got a tremendous shot and a heavy shot. It's fairly accurate and he has a tenacity to him."
McLellan is hoping Slepyshev can administer some energy on the right-wing position.
"I've never questioned his work ethic but there's something that has to come from that position eventually and hopefully Slep can deliver it."
DEVIL IN THE DETAILS
For the past six games, the Oilers have entered the third and final frame tied. The team is hoping to bust out of their current two-game funk and will need a strong third period to do so.
"The last two games, we were up 2-1 and then they score a late goal with 45 seconds left, so it's a letdown," said Oilers forward Patrick Maroon, who's on a six-game point streak with four goals and two assists. "We have to find ways to not get down and battle hard to win a hockey game."
The Devils are one of the tightest clubs in the final 20 minutes of play, having allowed only seven goals against in the third period this season.
"We haven't been successful in that part of it: getting that next goal and having the lead," said McLellan. "We're forced to play behind for the whole season, basically, doesn't matter if it's the first or the third (period)."
Rookie Kailer Yamamoto will come out of the lineup and Jussi Jokinen will slot back in. Kris Russell took a puck to the face in the morning skate but McLellan expects the defenceman will suit up.
The Oilers lineup at morning skate appeared to be:
The defence pairings will be more evident at warmups.
Cam Talbot will start in goal.
-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com
OILERS (3-7-1) vs. DEVILS (9-2-0)
TV: 7:00 p.m. MDT; Televised on Sportsnet
This is the first of two meetings between the Oilers and Devils in the 2017-18 season. The two clubs will meet again on November 9, in New Jersey during the Oilers four-game Eastern road swing.
Edmonton won the season series last year, defeating the Devils twice in overtime. Mark Letestu scored the overtime winner when the Oilers visited Prudential Center and Leon Draisaitl netted the winner in the rematch at Rogers Place.
Oilers team scope:
Edmonton's bumpy 2017-18 season continues with the team currently in the midst of a two-game slide. The Oilers began their five-game homestand with a 5-4 win over the Dallas Stars then dropped decisions to the Washington Capitals (5-2) and Pittsburgh Penguins (3-2).
Special teams play has been an issue for the Oilers. The club's power play sits 29th in the National Hockey League with a 13.2 percent clip. The penalty kill is 30th ahead of only the Arizona Coyotes with a 68.3 percentage.
Devils team scope:
The Devils are hot, owning a 9-2-0 record, coming off a 2-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks. They are a perfect 5-0-0 on the road, with their only two losses of the campaign coming at home against the Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks.
New Jersey has won every game against the Atlantic Division, going 5-0-0. The squad is 2-1-0 against the Pacific Division.
By the Numbers:
Oilers winger Patrick Maroon is on a six-game point streak, scoring four goals and two assists in that time. Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins share the team lead in goals with five each.
The Oilers lead the League in shots per game with 37.6. Edmonton's home PK is ranked 31st in the League at 54.2 percent.
New Jersey is 5-0-0 when scoring first. They are 4-2-0 when the opposition strikes first.
Devils forward Taylor Hall leads the club in points with three goals and 12 assists in 11 games. Rookie defenceman Will Butcher is second with 11 assists and leads the squad in power-play points with seven helpers. Left winger Brian Gibbons has two shorthanded goals.
The Devils have allowed only seven goals against in the third period this season. The squad averages 34.5 shots against per game.
OILERS -Andrej Sekera (knee) is out;
DEVILS - Kyle Palmieri (foot) is on IR; Marcus Johansson (upper body) is day-to-day.