NEW YORK, NY - The Oilers captured their sixth straight win last night with a 3-2 overtime thriller in Boston, but they know full well they’re going to need a more complete effort if they want to extend the streak to seven tonight in Manhattan.
Edmonton was admittedly outplayed by the Bruins last night, outshot 49-24 and relying on a gargantuan 47-save effort from goalie Cam Talbot to secure the win and keep the streak alive.
“We’re not dumb, we know we stole that game,” said winger Jordan Eberle, who was in on all three goals vs. Boston. “Talbot played great, and we’re going to need a better effort tonight if we’re going to win.”
“When we wake up this morning we’ve got one more win in the bank account, but what’s important is that we all accept responsibility for the level of play and execution,” echoed Coach Todd McLellan. “We understand we stole (the win) and we were able to address a few things, some areas of the game that we didn’t perform well enough.”
The Oilers and Rangers are set to square off for the second time in less than a week, and Edmonton knows it's going to encounter a New York team hungry for revenge after Friday’s 7-5 decision at Rexall Place. In particular, goalie Henrik Lundqvist will start for NYR tonight, looking to bounce back after getting chased by the Oilers in the third period on Friday, stopping 28 of the 33 shots he faced.
“They play a lot different, especially in their home rink,” Eberle said of the 18-9-4 Blueshirts. “I expect them to come out pretty hard… We have to find a way to advance pucks, get behind their D and create a little bit of a forecheck, because I thought that was, for the most part, non-existent vs. Boston.”
“We’ll see a team that’s going to want to set the tone in the first 10 minutes of the game,” McLellan added. “They’re probably not going to be very happy with the number of goals they’ve given up, so they’re going to check their butts off. It gives us a chance to make amends for some of the mistakes we made yesterday."
NOT SO FAST
Last night’s Oilers victory extended their impressive winning streak to six games, and they’ll go for seven tonight, which would be their longest undefeated stretch since 2001. The win in Boston also bumped their record up to 14-15-2, good enough for third place in the Pacific Division standings.
If the season ended today, the Oil would be headed back to the post-season for the first time since their magical run in 2006. Their season is only 31 games old, however, and they know they have a long way to go before they can even start thinking about a potential playoff berth.
“We haven’t even opened our presents yet,” McLellan said. “We’ve got to get to Christmas, and then we’ve got to get to all-star break, and then we’ve got to figure out the true NHL grind, which is those last 25 games. Based on where we’re at right now, we’re excited we’ve been able to win some games. It’s nice to get the reward.”
SECOND LINE STRENGTH
The bulk of the Oilers win streak has been fuelled by the offensive excellence of the team’s top forward line, comprised of Taylor Hall, Leon Draisaitl and Teddy Purcell. The terrific trio has been red-hot with a combined 23 points in the last six games.
The Bruins were able to shut them down on Monday, though, but fortunately for the Oilers, their second line stepped up and contributed all the offence. Eberle got Edmonton on the board and set up his centreman Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the second goal before both assisted on Andrej Sekera's OT winner.
Having two surging forward lines is a tremendous asset for the Oilers and a headache for opposing teams.
“It’s really big,” McLellan said. “When you look at some our games, Hall and Draisaitl and Purcell have carried the bulk of the offensive output… Now to get that second line on the board and scoring is an important tool for us. It forces the opposition to pick and choose their matchups carefully.”
“We want to win hockey games, and to do that you need more than one line going,” Eberle added. “Hallsy and Drat have been playing really well, and Teddy has been playing well too. You want to join in and, if they’re not going, give us a chance to win… Any time you jump in on the rush and gain some confidence by scoring and helping your team win, it’s great.”
Eberle, in particular, is heating up, scoring goals in four of the last five games. Seven of his 10 points on the season have also come in those five, as he’s getting back into a groove after missing the team’s first 13 games with a shoulder injury.
“It took some time to try and find my game,” he said. “It was tough coming back and being behind the eight-ball… I just wanted to try and play well and get chances, and I knew if I did that (the offence) was going to come. I’m starting feeling better.”
Based on Coach McLellan’s comments during today’s media availability, the Oilers lineup vs. New York will be:
McLellan did, however, say winger Rob Klinkhammer may be ready to return and play his first game since Oct. 27. The coach did not specify which player Klinkhammer would substitute in for if he is in fact good to go.
-- Ryan Frankson, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (14-15-2) at RANGERS (18-9-4)
TV: SNW, MSG
Season series: The Edmonton Oilers defeated the New York Rangers 7-5 on Friday. Edmonton forward Lauri Korpikoski had a hat trick, Taylor Hall had two goals and two assists, and Leon Draisaitl had four assists. New York forward Rick Nash had a goal and two assists.
Oilers team scope: Edmonton has won six in a row after a 3-2 overtime victory at the Boston Bruins on Monday. Former Rangers goalie Cam Talbot made 47 saves in his first start since Nov. 27. "We know that we stole one here tonight," coach Todd McLellan said. "Our goaltender played a tremendous game for us." Goalie Anders Nilsson likely will start Tuesday. Jordan Eberle had a goal and two assists against Boston; he has four goals and three assists in the past five games.
Rangers team scope: New York returns home for one game following an 0-2-1 trip through Western Canada. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist likely will start; he was pulled against the Oilers after allowing five goals on 33 shots in 42:40. The Rangers will be without defenseman Dan Girardi. "Dan Girardi has got some swelling in his knee, so he's day-to-day,” coach Alain Vigneault told the New York Post on Monday. "He'll be out for, I'm not exactly sure how long, depending on how the swelling does." Girardi, who has two goals, seven assists and a plus-five rating in 31 games, blocked a shot last Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks, then played through the pain in back-to-back games against Edmonton and the Calgary Flames. New York has been carrying six defensemen since Kevin Klein (oblique) was injured Nov. 30, so a recall from Hartford of the American Hockey League is likely. Vigneault said Raphael Diaz would have been promoted, but he is injured. Veteran Chris Summers and Brady Skjei, the Rangers' first-round pick (No. 28) in the 2012 NHL Draft, are possibilities.