EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers entertain the Detroit Red Wings in their new Alternate Jerseys on Friday night at Rogers Place, with the sharp threads complementing their sharp 6-1-0 record to begin the '19-20 NHL season.
A 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday was highlighted by a five-point night for Connor McDavid and a career-high 49-save performance from Mikko Koskinen, who gets the nod in goal tonight against the Red Wings for his second-consecutive start.
The Oilers also went 2-for-2 on the power play to increase their output percentage with the extra man to 10-for-22 and 45.5 percent - good enough for top spot in the NHL to go along with a penalty kill that sits fifth at 88.5 percent.
"Our goaltending and our special teams have been really good," Leon Draisaitl, who's second in league scoring behind McDavid with 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in seven contests, said. "They've been winning us games. I think we have to tighten it up a bit in our 5-on-5 game. Yesterday we had a good practice and video session, and tonight is another chance for us to grow as a team."
The result was another two points for the Oilers, but it was a mixed bag for Head Coach Dave Tippett heading into Thursday's practice.
"To win a game that your goaltender steals and your star player has five points, it all looks fancy on the scoreboard but those two points don't earn you the right to be a playoff team," the bench boss said. "It's how you play and build your team over 82 games that earns you the right to be a playoff team."
A game like Wednesday's is one that the coaching staff can have a field day with in the following video sessions, but Tippett was pleased to see that his players shared the same sentiment of using the tape for its teaching moments.
"I was pleased with the way our players looked at yesterday the same way the coaching staff did," Tippett added. "We won, but we have lots to work on."
Those lessons will be put to the test against a floundering Detroit outfit that's lost three-straight games on the bounce and been outscored 15-4 in the process.
"Obviously we weren't happy with the third period against the Flyers, so we want to keep this thing going in the right direction," forward Zack Kassian said. "We think we haven't even played our best yet, so that's a positive sign for us and tonight's a good test."
Make no mistake - the urgency will be there for the Red Wings.
Detroit has given up five goals in each of their last three games, including two-straight 5-1 losses to the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames.
"They've lost a couple in a row now, so they're going to be hungry and in need to a win," defenceman Ethan Bear, who scored his first goal of the season against Philadelphia, said. "When you lose a couple, you always want to bounce back. Nobody wants to be a team that loses four straight, so they're going to come in here with a lot of energy and we have to match that."
Tonight will be the first experience for Oilers General Manager and President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland as opposition to the Red Wings after winning 16 Division Championships, six Presidents Trophies and four Stanley Cup championships over 36 years with the organization.
"I'm sure he wants us to win," Bear said. "Coming into camp, he already mentioned his time in Detroit and how they won a couple of cups there. That's pretty cool, but I'm sure he wants us to win just as much as we want to win too."
"I'm sure it's an exciting night for him," Draisaitl added. "Obviously he spent pretty much all of his life there, and I think it will be a little weird for him to cheer for our team instead of the Red and White.
"Hopefully he will cheer for us," he laughed.
Forward Gaëtan Haas draws back into the lineup tonight, replacing Markus Granlund at centre on the fourth line.
Defenceman Brandon Manning will dress for the second-straight game beside Matt Benning with Joel Persson still recovering from a concussion and recently-recalled blueliner William Lagesson serving as the extra man out.
Nurse - Bear Klefbom - K. Russell Manning - Benning
-- Jamie Umbach, EdmontonOilers.com
OILERS (6-1-0) vs RED WINGS (3-4-0)
TV: 7:00 p.m. MDT; Televised on Sportsnet One
This is the first of two meetings between the Oilers and Red Wings in the 2019-20 NHL Season. The two clubs will conclude the season series on Oct. 29 at Little Caesars Arena.
Edmonton went 1-1-0 against Detroit in '18-19, going 5-2-1 in their last eight tilts.
James Neal leads all Oilers in points against the Red Wings with 16 (7G, 9A). Connor McDavid is next in line with nine (2G, 7A).
On the other side, Valtteri Filppula has 23 points (12G, 11A) against the Oilers and Justin Abdelkader has 16 (5G, 11A).
Oilers team scope:
After having their five-game win streak snapped in the Windy City against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Oilers bounced back at home with a 6-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers to improve to 6-1-0 on the season.
McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have carried much of the weight offensively this season, compiling 17 and 15 points, respectively, becoming the first team duo to register 15 points or more through the opening seven games of a campaign since Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr did so with Pittsburgh in 1995-96.
McDavid and Draisaitl sit first and second in League scoring.
James Neal, meanwhile, leads the Oilers in goals with eight and is tied for first in the NHL.
Red Wings team scope:
The Red Wings have dropped consecutive 5-1 decisions, losing by that score to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday then again to the Calgary Flames on Thursday. The club has allowed five goals against in their past trio of outings, entering Edmonton on a three-game slide with a 3-4-0 record.
Anthony Mantha heads the team in goals and points with six and 10, respectively, while Dylan Larkin is tops on the club in assists with five.
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier owns two of the Red Wings' three wins this season and Jimmy Howard possesses a .898 save percentage.
By the Numbers:
McDavid (2.43) and Draisaitl (2.14) are two of three skaters in the NHL currently producing over two points per game, with Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad (2.00) being the third. ... Neal has eight goals on 23 shots, good for a 34.8 percent shooting rate. ... The Oilers are 3-0-0 when scoring first. ... Detroit is 0-3-0 when tied after the opening 20. ... Edmonton has 12 third-period goals this year, while the Red Wings have allowed 12 goals against in the final frame.
OILERS - Joel Persson (concussion) is day-to-day; Joakim Nygard (ribs) is on IR; Adam Larsson (fibula) is on LTIR.
RED WINGS - Adam Erne (upper body) is day-to-day; Johan Franzen (concussion-like symptoms) is on IR; Jonathan Ericsson (undisclosed) is on IR; Chase Pearson (mid body) is on IR.