COSTA MESA, CA - Fresh off splitting a home-and-home set with the San Jose Sharks, the Oilers open another home-and-home against a Pacific Division opponent tonight as they complete their mini two-game road trip against the Anaheim Ducks.
After edging the Sharks 2-1 on Sunday at Rexall Place, the Oilers outshot San Jose 27-24 last night at SAP Center but the home side capitalized on their opportunities more efficiently than the visitors, prevailing with a 5-2 decision.
As they head into Wednesday night's game against the League-leading Ducks (18-6-5), the Oilers know they must do a better job of bearing down on their chances when they get them. And they're also focused on the quality of those chances, as opposed to quantity.
"We've got to find some more finish in our game, that's for sure," Head Coach Dallas Eakins said following meetings and off-ice workouts at the team hotel. "We've asked our guys that we look to for offence to really have a hard look at last night's game and see if they could find spots where they could give themselves better scoring opportunities or a better position to finish."
Taylor Hall leads the Oilers in goals with eight in 22 games, but he hasn't found the back of the net in his last six contests, despite generating 16 shots on goal. Hall said the team needs to make a more concerted effort to create traffic in front of opposing goalies, particularly with the man advantage.
"We just need to get guys in front more, get some more screens and make it tough on the goalies," he said. "When we're getting shots from 80 feet out, they're not going to go in unless there are screens. We need to get guys to the net more, five on five and power play."
LINEUP TBD AFTER WARMUP
The Oilers are only carrying one extra forward and one extra defenceman at the moment, and all 20 will take pre-game warmup tonight in Anaheim, after which the lineup will be determined. Viktor Fasth is confirmed to start between the pipes, though. Boyd Gordon (back) and Brandon Davidson (OKC call-up) were scratched last night in San Jose.
"We're just waiting on some updates on some injuries before we make any roster decisions," Eakins said. "We've just let everyone know to prepare to play. Everybody will take warmup, and we'll go from there."
DAVIDSON DEBUT A POSSIBILITY
If the Oilers decide to insert Davidson into the lineup, it will be the first NHL game for the 23-year-old blueliner. Davidson has been solid with the AHL's OKC Barons this season, scoring three points and holding a +5 rating in 14 games after missing the start of the season with a groin injury.
"I'm definitely more excited than I would be for a normal game," Davidson said about possibly making his NHL debut. "But I think I need to prepare the same way and do the same things that I've done in the past to make me successful. I'm excited, ready to go and waiting for the call."
"He's been playing very well," Eakins added, referring to the scouting report provided by OKC bench boss Todd Nelson. "That young man has had a long road to recovery and has worked extremely hard. He's been playing very responsible and was worthy of the call-up."
KLEFBOM CONTINUES TO IMPRESS
Despite the tough stretch the Oilers are going through right now, keeping games tight but dropping some slim defeats, young blueliner Oscar Klefbom is starting to thrive as he takes on more minutes and responsibly.
The 21-year-old Swede, selected 19th overall at the 2011 NHL Draft, has logged at least 23 minutes in each of the past three Oilers games, and has a +2 rating with his first assist of the season in his last four games. Now is not the time to relax and get comfortable, however, Klefbom said on Wednesday.
"I don't want to settle down," he said. "I want to keep focused on the next game and play even better if I can. (Last season) in the American Hockey League helped me a lot to adjust to small ice and play a lot of games. This year I feel like I'm taking the next step, playing a lot of minutes, and it feels great."
-- Ryan Frankson, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (7-16-5) at DUCKS (18-6-5)
TV: SNW, SNOL, FS-W
Season series: The Anaheim Ducks won three of five games against the Edmonton Oilers last season. Ducks forward Corey Perry had three goals and one assist against Edmonton.
Oilers team scope: The Oilers lost for the 12th time in their past 13 games when they dropped a 5-2 decision at the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. Edmonton fell behind by two goals early but rallied with goals from Jordan Eberle and David Perron before the first intermission. However, the Sharks responded with two more goals early in the second period and never looked back. Ben Scrivens made 19 saves in the loss. "We're getting enough chances to score three goals, and it's a 3-2 League," coach Dallas Eakins said. "If you're going to continue to score two, it's not going to go well for you. Our guys are getting their chances, but we've got to start putting them in the net now. We've got to put ourselves in a better spot to score the goals." Viktor Fasth will start against his former team Wednesday.
Ducks team scope: The Ducks will be without Perry for the next 3-4 weeks because of a sprained knee, they announced Tuesday. Perry was injured in the first period Friday against the Minnesota Wild when he was knocked into the boards along the right wall on a hip check by Minnesota defenseman Keith Ballard. He was favoring his left leg, needed assistance to leave the ice and immediately left the bench. He will be replaced on the top line by Devante Smith-Pelly. "Corey isn't going to be replaced, but someone has to go in there and do his job," coach Bruce Boudreau told the Ducks website. "Smith-Pelly is a natural right winger even though he was doing well at center. He was the leading scorer in Norfolk last year and he was a 50-goal scorer in junior. We know he has good hands." Goalie John Gibson, who was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 4 because of a groin injury, practiced Tuesday. The Ducks also signed veteran goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a one-year contract. Frederik Andersen is likely to start against the Oilers.