EDMONTON, AB - While the Oilers eventually trounced Toronto 5-2 on Thursday in their last outing, their start wasn’t where they wanted it to be. That, coupled with the club getting into penalty trouble, means the Oilers have some things they want to shore up heading into tonight’s contest against the visiting Winnipeg Jets.
“We weren’t clean at times,” said defenceman Brandon Davidson. “I think Cam (Talbot) kept us in that, for sure in the first period anyways and in the third as well. We definitely have some areas to clean up and it’s great to get the win and kind of get smiles back on the faces. It’s a great way to start off this homestand, then again we need to keep pushing forward and keep making improvements.”
Despite taking penalties, the Oilers were able to kill them off thanks in large part to Talbot, who made 14 shorthanded saves.
“Of course, we had too many penalties that game,” said forward Iiro Pakarinen. “We had good special teams in that game. We just have to bring that good PK from that game, and of course that one line scored all our goals. Hopefully, they continue that. Just play a little bit better. I think it wasn’t that bad of a game. The first, we were a little bit slow. We need a good start tonight.”
The line that Pakarinen referenced was the Benoit Pouliot-Connor McDavid-Jordan Eberle trio, which accounted for all five of the Oilers goals.
BIG AND TOUGH
The Jets are always labeled as a big, physical team. The Oilers will try to match that tonight, in order to come out on top.
“Whether it be penalty kill or forecheck, they have a lot of big guys that if you don’t get the job done that’s kind of their m.o. We’ve got a good test tonight,” said Davidson. “We also have got a few bodies that are big and strong too and we’ll need that pushback tonight.”
The last time these two teams met on December 21, the Oilers were able to skate away with a 3-1 win. Talbot made 44 saves.
“In my opinion, we stole the game when we played them,” said Head Coach Todd McLellan. “We had a good start, we built up a lead and then we decided we just wanted to defend and with their size and their ability to roll around in your end, that’s not a good recipe. You’ve got to keep attacking. They do play a hard, strong game along the walls. They roll around good. Our power play is going to have to be sharp. They have a tendency to take some penalties, so if they do we’re going to have to make sure it’s sharp.”
BROSSOIT GETS THE NOD
With Talbot nursing an illness, and missing the morning skate, Laurent Brossoit will make his season debut in net and start only his second NHL game.
“We were going to play him some game or games when he was here anyhow,” said McLellan. “Why not tonight?”
Brossoit has played 26 games in the American Hockey League this season, posting a 14-8-3 record and .921 save percentage.
“I wouldn’t say I was down there by the phone waiting. I’d like to think I was patient and I knew my time would come,” said Brossoit. “I know circumstance has a lot to do with it. I was just patient and a call came sooner than I thought, which was nice.”
The 22-year-old netminder was named an AHL All-Star this season.
“I’m a big believer in Brossoit,” said Davidson. “He’s done a great job. I played with him in the minors and he competes like no other. He’s tremendously athletic and he did a great job last year when he got the game too. He’s ready and I think he’ll show that tonight.”
Pakarinen, who also has played with Brossoit in the minors, mirrors Davidson’s sentiments.
“Last year, he was very good in OKC when I played with him,” said Pakarinen. “He’s a very competitive guy and wants to win every puck. I think he’s going to be good tonight.”
-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com
JETS (24-27-3) at OILERS (22-29-5)
TV: 10 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports, SN1, NHL.TV
Season series: Teddy Purcell scored twice and had an assist to help the Edmonton Oilers to a 3-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets at Rexall Place on Dec. 21. Taylor Hall had three assists for Edmonton, and goaltender Cam Talbot made 44 saves.
Jets team scope: Winnipeg activated goaltender Ondrej Pavelec from injured reserve Friday before leaving to begin a four-game road trip. He has been out since injuring his knee Nov. 21 against the Arizona Coyotes. Rookie goaltender Connor Hellebuyck was reassigned to Manitoba of the American Hockey League. Coach Paul Maurice did not confirm a starting goaltender but said that Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson "somewhere in the next two or three games" each will play. Winnipeg remains last in the Central Division at 51 points. Center Bryan Little has scored in each of the past two games. The trip continues next Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Oilers team scope: Coach Todd McLellan will keep Hall on a line with center Mark Letestu and right wing Zach Kassian. He assembled the line in a 5-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, and it remained together in practice Friday; Hall does not have a point in his past four games. Hall's former linemates, Purcell and center Leon Draisaitl, will skate with Iiro Pakarinen. "Everybody has ebbs and flows," McLellan told the Oilers website. "Often when one guy goes, he pulls another linemate a little bit with him, either up or down." McLellan has not confirmed whether Talbot will start a ninth straight game. Center Connor McDavid has three goals and four assists in the past five games. On a six-game homestand, Edmonton hosts the Anaheim Ducks next Tuesday.