CALGARY, AB - After a dramatic shootout victory at home against the Los Angeles Kings last night, the Edmonton Oilers get right back at it tonight as they close out the 2014 calendar year against their provincial rivals from Calgary.
Oilers interim head coach Todd Nelson, coaching without GM Craig MacTavish on the bench for the first time last night, talked about getting his first career NHL victory in the 3-2 shootout win.
“I think there was a sense of relief. Any time you’re on a tough skid like we were on, it’s nice to get a win like that,” Nelson remarked before quckly stating that the turnaround is quick with tonight's match-up.
“We’re going to play the same way as we did last night, or at least try to,” said Nelson. “We want to make sure we get off to a great start. Last night our start was really good. I don’t think we gave up a lot in the first period and to get through that (period) was a goal that we had to have. Now it’s just a matter of playing 60 minutes like that.”
Matt Hendricks, who scored the opening goal in the game and was named one of the three stars, also reflected on the win.
“It was great, especially at home in front of our fans against a great L.A. team,” said Hendricks. “We know they’ve been struggling a bit but they’re the champs. It was a little feather in our cap, we beat a great hockey team but we’ve got to keep building (off of that).”
Despite having started last night, the Oilers will be going with Ben Scrivens in goal again tonight against the Flames. Nelson felt that Scrivens earned it with his performance the last couple of games.
“I’m aware of the analytics of this but we’re going with Ben tonight. Based on his performance last night and also based on his performance when he came in against Calgary in relief of Viktor (on Saturday).”
NO CHANGES UP FRONT
Nelson added that there won't be any changes up front, either.
“The forward group is not going to change. I thought both new guys played well. Roy made a great play on the first goal and I thought Fraser worked and competed hard. I liked what I saw and they’re only going to get better when they feel more comfortable.”
The forward lines will be:
Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle Perron - Draisaitl - Fraser Yakupov - Roy - Purcell Gazdic - Gordon - Pitlick
This morning, Derek Roy was asked how he felt his first game went, aside from getting cut with a skate and having to miss the majority of the first period.
“I thought the first two periods we played real well. Played a real aggressive style and kept them hemmed into their own zone and got some chances,” Roy began. “But in the third period we sat back and let them come at us. It’s something to learn on and improve.”
With Scrivens in and the forwards set, the only lineup change will be Niki Nikitin out in place of Keith Aulie.
“Keith Aulie is going in for Niki," said Nelson. "It’s back-to-back games and he’s coming fresh off an injury,” Nelson stated. “It gives him an opportunity to work with Rocky (Thompson, assistant coach) on the ice as well as Chad (Drummond, trainer) to improve his foot speed and get him ready for Colorado.”
With Aulie in, defence pairings for tonight are projected to be:
Ference - Petry Klefbom - Fayne Aulie - Schultz
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (8-22-7) at FLAMES (20-15-3)
TV: SN, SN1
Season series: The Calgary Flames have won the first two games against the Edmonton Oilers. Rookie forward Johnny Gaudreau scored twice in 16 seconds in the first period of a 4-1 victory Saturday at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Oilers team scope: Ben Scrivens made 37 saves in regulation and overtime, then stopped four shooters in the shootout to help Edmonton end a nine-game losing streak (0-7-2) with a 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. The Oilers had not won since defeating the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on Dec. 7. They are 2-18-2 in their past 22 games. The win Tuesday was their first past regulation this season. "It was great to finally go to a game that goes to extra time this season and come away with the two points," said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who had one of Edmonton's goals. "Over the past little while, it has become pretty frustrating." It was the first NHL win for interim coach Todd Nelson (1-3-2), who took over when Dallas Eakins was fired Dec. 15. "It does feel really good," Nelson said of his first NHL win. "I'm not sure it has sunk in yet. It is more or less a relief. It's a relief for everyone to get this win under our belts, and now we can build on the result." In Nelson's first five games, Edmonton general manager Craig MacTavish accompanied him behind the bench.
Flames team scope: After losing eight straight (0-7-1) in early December, Calgary has won three in a row, including the victory Saturday against the Oilers between two wins against the Kings. "Learning to win is the toughest that you can do at the NHL level," coach Bob Hartley said. "People don't realize how tough it is to win at this level. Just to make the playoffs, it's an achievement -- 16 teams out of 30. It's an 82-game marathon." Helping the Flames' cause of late has been the duo of Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler, who have combined for five goals and 11 points during the winning streak. "I think that they have great chemistry. They love playing together," Hartley said. "Looking at their production I think it is pretty safe to say they've been real good, not only on the offensive side but also on the defensive side. They're giving us the complete game. That's why we're winning games." The Flames have won the first two of their six-game homestand. Goalie Jonas Hiller, who made 26 saves Saturday against the Oilers, is expected to start.