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MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers vs. Devils

The Oilers host the New Jersey Devils at Rogers Place on Wednesday to close out their four-game home stand

by Jamie Umbach / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers host the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night in their final game of a four-game home stand, looking to maintain forward momentum in the race for a playoff spot after Monday's overtime win against the New York Rangers.

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

Watch interviews, read the latest Oilers news, and more below in the Morning Skate Report.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Pre-Game vs NJ 03.13.19

INSIDE THE OILERS

News and notes from Tuesday's Oilers practice, including injury updates on Klefbom, Lucic, and Khaira, along with Kassian's balancing of duties on and off the ice.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers look to capitalize against an injury-ridden New Jersey Devils team tonight in their final game of a four-game home stand at Rogers Place.

The Devils were shelled for nine against the Calgary Flames last night ahead of completing a set of back-to-back games tonight, but the Oilers aren't looking past what they're able to control in a bid to win their fifth game out of six and gain more ground in the race for the wild card.

"Putting up nine would be nice of course, but we've got to focus on playing a tight game," defenceman Matt Benning, who goes tonight after taking a hard hit on Monday, said. "We can't count on scoring a lot of goals every game. We've got to play a 3-2 game or a 4-2 game, so I think it's a league that's a race to three or four goals then after that it's all about defending."

Film analysis this morning stuck to what the Devils are able to do well, and how the Oilers can continue to employ what's worked during a positive 7-2-1 run in their past 10 contests.

"This is not the time to be focused on the opposition, it's the time to be focused on ourselves," Oilers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Our starts are good because we're emotionally engaged right off the bat.

"We're understanding much more now about how much our forecheck and puck control in the offensive zone leads to scoring chances. We're establishing that early in games, early in periods, and it's allowing us to control the tempo of the game more."

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

It's a different feeling when you're winning.

The Oilers have been riding the charge of a rejuvenated playoff push, and the feeling is electric.

"The energy levels are completely different," Khaira said. "When you're losing, nobody has fun, it's tough to sleep, you come to the rink and it's not the same. You don't have the same energy, but when you're winning there's an extra little jump.

A positive stretch of 7-2-1 in their last 10 games after going 1-8-3 in their previous 12 has put the Oilers back in the mix in the Western Conference, six points back of the Arizona Coyotes with a game in hand and 13 games left on the schedule.

"The grind of losing can really eat at you, so a stretch like this is awesome to be on," Khaira continued. "Everybody in the dressing room feels good about it, and we want to keep this feeling the rest of the season."

Scoreboard watching has become inevitable, but for the Oilers players and management, they invoke different reactions.

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Hitchcock 03.13.19

"They're loving the situation they're in right now," Hitchcock said. "Sometimes it makes us nervous because we're doing the worrying part and they're doing the playing part, but they're loving it as every game matters so much and each shift matters so much. I don't see that changing for the rest of the year."

LINEUP NOTES

The Oilers were given a clean bill of health this morning with confirmed returns for Milan Lucic, Oscar Klefbom, and Jujhar Khaira after all three skaters were omitted from Tuesday's practice for maintenance days.

"It was a maintenance day yesterday, it's been one of those years, so when I can get my rest that's the main goal," forward Jujhar Khaira said. "I want to be as healthy as possible for games and that's my goal."

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Khaira 03.13.19

Wednesday's morning skate was optional, but lines for tonight appear to be as follows:

Forwards

Draisaitl - McDavid - Kassian

Khaira - Nugent-Hopkins - Gagner

Rieder - Cave - Chiasson

Lucic - Brodziak - Currie

Defence

Klefbom - Larsson

Nurse - Russell

Sekera - Benning

Goalies

Koskinen

Stolarz

-- Jamie Umbach, EdmontonOilers.com

PREVIEW

OILERS (31-31-7) vs. DEVILS (25-36-9)

TV: 7:30 p.m. MST; Televised on Sportsnet West

Head-to-Head:

The last time the Oilers and Devils met, it was on foreign soil.

New Jersey and Edmonton opened their seasons against one another in Gothenburg, Sweden for the NHL Global Series, with the Devils winning 5-2. Milan Lucic, Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid all had two-point nights for the Oilers in a losing effort.

Oilers team scope:

The Oilers are one of the hottest teams in the NHL at the moment, and it's the right time to peak.

The Oilers are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games after atoning for a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs with a 3-2 overtime victory against the New York Rangers on Monday. As of Tuesday night, the Oilers are six points back of the Arizona Coyotes with a game in hand for the Western Conference's final wild card spot.

On the ice, Leon Draisaitl continues to ride the hottest stick in the League with a career-best 14 game point streak that's amassed 23 points (10G, 23A). His counterpart Connor McDavid is sporting a nine-game point streak, yielding a goal and 13 helpers.

Devils team scope:

The Devils have been plagued by injuries with 12 players out, resulting in the club being marred in a season-long, seven-game losing streak (0-6-1). On Tuesday they faced the Calgary Flames and lost 9-4 in the first of back-to-back games before playing the visitor role against the Oilers on Wednesday.

Taylor Hall has been out since December 26 with a lower-body injury, and is still fourth in team scoring with 37 points (11G, 26A) in 33 games behind Kyle Palmeiri at the top with 27 goals and 22 assists in 66 games.

Mackenzie Blackwood got the start in Calgary for the Devils on Tuesday, meaning the Oilers are in line to face Cory Schneider, who's 4-10-3 this season with a 3.20 goals against average and .897 save percentage.

By the Numbers:

The Devils are 8-24-3 on the road - second-worst in the NHL this season... New Jersey has the fourth-best penalty kill this season at 187-for-223 (84.6 percent)... The Devils are one of five teams this season to not have a player with at least 50 points...

The Oilers have earned at least one point in nine of their last 11 games, going 7-2-2... Edmonton has earned a point in 12 of their last 15 games vs Devils going 9-3-3 and has won 3 straight home games vs Devils...

McDavid is two points shy for his 3rd straight 100-point season... He has recorded five straight multi-point games (1G, 10A)... The Devils are the only team that McDavid has not scored a goal against... Draisaitl is four points away from hitting the 300-point plateau for his career, and his 42 goals this season is the second most in the NHL this season...

Injury Report:

OILERS - Jesse Puljujarvi (hip) is on IR.

DEVILS - Taylor Hall (lower body) is on IR; Pavel Zacha (upper body) is day-to-day; Miles Wood (ankle) is day-to-day; Mirco Mueller (shoulder) is day-to-day; Nico Hischier (upper body) is day-to-day; Nathan Bastien (undisclosed) is day-to-day; Jesper Bratt (lower body) is day-to-day; Sami Vatanen (illness) is day-to-day; Stefan Noesen (upper body) is day-to-day; John Quenneville (upper body) is day-to-day.

-- Jamie Umbach, EdmontonOilers.com

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