EDMONTON, AB - It was a long, successful road trip.
A three-game sweep through the Big Apple contributed to a season-opening five-game win streak for the Oilers that was snapped at the final hurdle in Chicago on Monday before returning home to begin a brief two-game homestand tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Oilers trailed in every victory, digging deep with a fightback mentality from every player in the lineup to come from behind in each contest before a 3-1 loss to the Blackhawks stopped the streak.
"Last game in Chicago might not have been our best effort as a team, but everyone's still pulling and we had a shot at the end of the game," forward Alex Chiasson said pre-game. "We're right there and it's a one-goal game, so there are good things this group is doing. I know it's early in the season, but it's great to get off to one of these starts."
By the players' admissions, each win wasn't pretty. But their ability to find multiple routes to victory was a massive takeaway to go along with their 10 points in the standings through six games.
"Obviously it's been a great start for the team. A lot of new faces," Chiasson continued. "I said it before that there's been a lot of change in this organization, and I think it was a key for us to get off to a good start.
"One thing for sure is that it makes everyone feel good about themselves. It gives confidence in the locker room. This is a good place to be right now for us."
Having the win streak end is a great excuse to begin anew against a Philadelphia side playing the second game of a back-to-back after losing 3-1 in Calgary the night prior.
"We've got to come out hard," forward Patrick Russell, who's drawing back into the lineup for the first time tonight since October 10, said. "They're a hard-working team, but we just have to outwork them and I feel we have the guys here to do that. So hopefully we can do that and get a win."
The Chiass is on for the 29-year-old Montreal, Quebec product.
It wasn't the start Chiasson imagined after missing the first three games of the season with an illness after coming off a career year of 22 goals and 38 points over 73 games in 2018-19 after arriving at the Oilers Training Camp on a professional tryout.
"It's time for me to get going," he said from the Oilers dressing room this morning. "Obviously with what happened the first 10 days of the season being out a little bit, I felt like the last two games were a step in the right direction. But it's time for me to get going here, playing on the inside and around the net and doing what I do best."
Chiasson will be elevated to the second line tonight to play left wing alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and James Neal, who's began his own first season as an Oiler with eight goals in the first six games to surpass his goal tally from last campaign.
"We're trying to get Chiasson a bit more engaged," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "He missed seven or eight days there with an illness, so we're trying to get him going a little more. He's been around some chances lately and hopefully he can capitalize with those guys."
Chiasson's hoping to get back to his game by being a hound on pucks in the corners to spring turnovers for his linemates and converting the opportunities that have been there for him in his three appearances so far this season.
"I think for me, it's being good on forecheck retrievals and everything below the goal line is usually where I help out my line," Chiasson said. "I've had some good looks so far this year, I feel. Some of the looks are there that I like in my game, so those are things I have to make sure I keep an eye on and focus on before the game. The rest of it will take care of itself.
"It's fair to say we should be a hungry line tonight and I'm trying to make the most out of my opportunity."
Chiasson's elevation to the second line was escalated with the news of forward Joakim Nygard having to miss the next two-to-four weeks with a rib injury sustained in the second period of Monday's loss to Chicago.
"With Nygard being out, we were looking for another left-winger," Tippett said. "So we flipped Neal over there and Chiasson was a guy we wanted to have a look with Nuge and Nealer, so hopefully he grabs that opportunity."
Nurse - Bear Klefbom - Persson K. Russell - Benning
-- Jamie Umbach, EdmontonOilers.com
OILERS (5-1-0) vs FLYERS (2-1-1)
TV: 7:30 p.m. MDT; Televised on Sportsnet 360
Over two meetings between the Oilers and Flyers in 2018-19, it was the story of the home team. The Oilers trounced Philadelphia 4-1 on December 12 before losing in overtime 5-4 on February 2 thanks to a Nolan Patrick sudden-death tally.
Connor McDavid led the Oilers with a trio of goals and two helpers in the two contests, while Claude Giroux led the visitors with a goal and three assists. Goaltender Mikko Koskinen had a victory and 31 saves on 32 shots in Edmonton's victory, and Carter Hart allowed four goals on 44 attempts from the Oilers in the Flyers' triumph.
Oilers team scope:
The Oilers are coming off a historic road trip on a number of fronts.
A 3-0 sweep of the New York Islanders, Rangers, and New Jersey Devils was the first time the Oilers came away from a three-game stint in the Big Apple with all three victories. In addition, all three were part of a five-game win streak where each win came from a come-from-behind scenario - a first in NHL history.
James Neal's eight goals in six games tie Wayne Gretzky's franchise record for goals to begin a season, while Leon Draisaitl & Connor McDavid are the first Oilers players with 12 points through the first 6 games of a season since Mark Messier had 12 points in 1989-90.
Flyers team scope:
Philadelphia fell behind early to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night and couldn't catch up, falling 3-1 in the first of back-to-back games for tonight's visitors to Rogers Place. Matt Niskanen is riding a three-game point streak after scoring his first goal as a Flyer in a losing effort.
Brian Elliott stopped 35 of 37 shots, but the Oilers should expect to see hometown netminder Carter Hart in between the pipes for the Flyers on Wednesday. The Sherwood Park, Alberta product is 2-0-1 this season so far with a 1.68 goals-against average and .938 save percentage.
Philadelphia has only played four games so far this season after beginning their campaign overseas in the Czech Republic as part of the 2019 NHL Global Series.
By the Numbers:
The Oilers and Flyers both find themselves in the NHL's top-10 for power-play and penalty-kill percentage at this early stage of the season... The Oilers have not allowed a power-play goal against in 4 straight games, killing all 11 times shorthanded...
The Flyers are 2-6-1 in their last 9 road games vs the Oilers, getting outscored 32-20... The Oilers have scored 11 of their 22 goals this season in the 3rd period - the second-most third-period goals in the NHL.