EDMONTON, AB - The Edmonton Oilers had a successful three-game road trip that maybe wasn’t reflected in the point column. After two one-point loss to two of the NHL’s top teams (San Jose and Anaheim), the Oilers were rewarded with a win over the Phoenix Coyotes, who are battling for a playoff spot.
The team felt they played well enough to win all three games and played some good hockey, playing in that spoiler role they’ve adapted.
“I thought we played well on the road trip,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “You’re still looking to find a way to get points when you’re that close. When we’re in San Jose, when we’re in Anaheim, I thought we had those teams on the ropes a little bit but we weren’t able to get the points and we’ve got to find a way. We’re fine with the way we’ve played.
“I thought we played a good game in Phoenix and we were able to get the points but our guys sense now… every game means everything every night expect for when you get to the end, the games become more important. Even though we know we’re going to be done come the end of this week, the games mean something to the other teams one way or the other. Maybe a team is trying to get first place in their division or their conference or a team like Phoenix is fighting for their playoff lives. The guys understand what’s on the line and I think they’ve been able to bring a little bit more…”
The Ducks scored with 1:21 remaining in the game to cap their third-period resurgence and down the Oilers 3-2 in Anaheim on Wednesday night in their latest matchup. The Oilers feel there may be a little sense of wanting revenge when the two face off again tonight for the third time in nine days.
“We definitely gave one away there in Anaheim,” Oilers forward Jordan Eberle said. “I thought we outplayed them and they scored some timely goals to tie it up and then with a minute left, scored to end up winning it. I think if we bring that same effort and that same play that we played there, that’s one of the better games that I’ve played as an Oiler from a team perspective. If we play that well again as a team, I feel like we’ll have a great chance at winning.”
For goaltender Viktor Fasth, it’s his second chance to beat his former team in less than a week after the first opportunity slipped by in the closing moments of that game. However, he downplayed his own personal feelings toward this individual game.
“It doesn’t matter really what team you play, you want to win every game,” Fasth said. “That’s why you play hockey, that’s what it’s all about. Of course it’s a special game, I’ve been playing with these guys for over a year but it’s still two points, it’s a new game.”
RECLAIMING HOME ICE
The Oilers have not had recent success at home in Edmonton over the last stretch of games. Following a 5-1 win over Nashville on March 18, the Oilers are 1-4-0 at Rexall Place, while getting outscored 21-4 in those four losses. The lone victory stemmed from a 4-3 overtime decision over the Ducks on March 28.
The Oilers are looking to finish out the season strong at home with their final four games being played out on Rexall Place ice. Forward Jordan Eberle says that the way the team played on their recent road trip could help them coming into these final four games.
“It’s definitely been a tough home stretch here the last little bit with the Calgary and the San Jose game but we really feel good about our game off this road trip,” Eberle said. “I think we played three-solid games. We didn’t get rewarded in the first two but obviously did in the last one. I think just giving the fans something to feel good about as well as ourselves. I think anytime you finish well at home, that’s kind of what they remember. I remember from last year, beating the Canucks at home pretty handily and it felt like we had just won the cup. It’s just you really want to give them something to cheer about and feel good about in our own rink.”
PITLICK MAY BE BACK, KLEFBOM A GAME-TIME DECISION
Rookie defenceman Oscar Klefbom did not participate in today’s pre-game morning skate. Coach Eakins provided an update on him, saying he was a game-time decision for tonight.
“There’s no use putting him out there to aggravate what he’s got and we have to do some work in the gym, he’ll try for warmup and that will be up to him after that,” Eakins said. “I’m kind of 50/50 on whether he’s going to be able to play or not.”
On the opposite side of things, another rookie looks like he is making his return to the lineup, if not tonight then soon. Tyler Pitlick could play for the first time since March 30, after missing time with an injured knee.
“I just took a shot in the knee cap and it bruised it pretty good and whenever I’d bend it or take a stride, I’d feel a lot of pressure in there and it’d give it a lot of pain so it was kind of tough, I’d lose my power,” he explained. “It’s feeling a lot better today and hopefully I get back in the lineup.”
-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com