OTTAWA, ON - The Edmonton Oilers conclude their season series with the Ottawa Senators over the next two days, hoping to finish with a spotless 9-0-0 record.
The Oilers have handled the Senators all season long, besting the club by a 34-15 goal-differential while collecting a trio of victories by three goals or more. The Sens have also been victims of the Dynamic Duo, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who have 33 points combined in the series.
"It's a tough task to go 9-0 or even to go .500 against these teams and it's going to be a really good test," forward Kailer Yamamoto said Tuesday after practice. "We've been able to play our game, get pucks in and get shots on net to free up Davo and Drat. Those are big, key things."
At Rogers Place this season, the Oilers have averaged 5.6 goals versus the Senators and possess a 28-12 scoring margin but contests have been much tighter when Edmonton visits Ottawa. The Senators have limited the Orange & Blue to six goals in two games played at Canadian Tire Centre, taking advantage of the home team's capacity to make the last change.
Despite the facts and figures, Head Coach Dave Tippett is maintaining focus on his club while preaching team improvement.
"It's going to be a tough game for us," the coach said. "You got to go in and play well, doesn't matter who you're playing. If you don't play well, you're not going to win. If you play well, you give yourself a chance."
Despite staking a two-goal lead against the Canadiens Monday, the Oilers suffered a 3-2 sudden-death loss. Canadiens forwards Josh Anderson and Tomas Tatar erased the deficit to force overtime where newly-acquired centre Eric Staal tallied the game-deciding goal.
"We were on our heels too much and trying to protect the lead," defenceman Caleb Jones said of the loss. "It's hard to do that for 20 minutes against a team that's really pushing."
Finding ways to win has been a mandate for the Oilers and one facet of that is protecting leads. That last defeat may have stung but the squad remains confident with a 20-8-2 showing since starting the season 3-6-0 and are determined to improve defensively.
"We're a confident team," Jones said. "We know how we're supposed to play with the lead or without the lead. We have the same mindset no matter what every night. We're just going to continue to try to keep growing that and becoming a better defensive team."
Edmonton has shown the strength to guard leads this season, going 16-1-2 when up after the second period. Tippett believes progress is still being made despite all the curveballs and schedule changes stemming from the NHL's COVID-19 Protocol.
"With the schedule we've had here, it's been a little bit of a mixed bag because it's hard finding a rhythm to jump into," he said. "We're working with that stuff but we're still trying to push our game forward. You take what's in front of you and hopefully every game there are things you can grab out of it and use as a positive."
The Oilers will hold a morning skate Wednesday ahead of the 3:00 PM MT puck drop. Stay tuned to EdmontonOilers.com for pre-game interviews, news and updates.
The Oilers dropped the puck on a four-game road tour Monday against the Montreal Canadiens, securing a single point in a 3-2 overtime setback. Edmonton sits in sole possession of third in the North Division with 23 wins, 48 points and a .615 points percentage through 39 games.
Captain Connor McDavid (22G, 42A) continues to head the National Hockey League scoring race with 64 points and Leon Draisaitl (19G, 38A) trails in second with 57.
Defenceman Darnell Nurse notched his 13th marker of the season versus the Canadiens and leads all NHL defenders in goals. Tyson Barrie is tied for third in points among Dmen with 32.
The Ottawa Senators are coming off a one-goal, 4-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Monday. Ottawa holds a 4-3-3 record in the last 10 games, resting seventh in the North Division with 30 points over 39 outings.
Drake Batherson (12G, 11A), Brady Tkachuk (12G, 11A) and Thomas Chabot (4G, 19A) share the team lead in points with 23 apiece. The Sens are third in scoring by rookies in 2020-21 with 19 goals, 34 assists and 54 points being produced by freshmen.
With injuries in goal, netminder Anton Forsberg stopped 42 of 46 shots against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday while Matt Murray, Joey Daccord and Marcus Hogberg remain sidelined.
Wednesday's game marks the eighth of nine meetings between the Oilers and Senators in '20-21. Edmonton is 7-0 in the season series, outscoring Ottawa 34-15.
In seven games against the Sens this year, Draisaitl (7G, 10A) and McDavid (3G, 13A) have combined for 33 points. Barrie has also produced offensively with three goals and 11 points.
Senators forward Evgenii Dadonov has four goals and five points to lead the club in scoring versus Edmonton. Tim Stützle (3G, 1A), Tkachuk (2G, 2A), Austin Watson (1G, 3A) and Chabot (1G, 3A) all have four points.
The Oilers own the 2nd-ranked power play in the NHL (26.4%) and 18th penalty kill (78.4%). ... The Oilers are 17th in the circle with a 50.1 faceoff percentage. ... The club is 6th in goals for per game, averaging 3.26. ... Nurse has three goals and 19 shots in his last five games. ... Draisaitl has six assists and seven points in his last five. ... The Oilers are 6-1-0 in the first game of a back-to-back this season and 10-6-2 on the road. ...
The Senators are 26th on the PP (15.2%) and 23rd on the PK (76.9%). ... Ottawa is 31st in the League, averaging 3.72 goals against per game average. ... OTT possesses a minus-20 goal differential in the 1st period, a minus-21 difference in the 2nd but are only minus-one in the 3rd. ... The Sens are 8-7-4 at Canadian Tire Centre.
OILERS - Slater Koekkoek (upper body) is on LTIR; Oscar Klefbom (shoulder) is on LTIR.
SENATORS - Matt Murray (upper body) is day-to-day; Marcus Hogberg (lower body) is day-to-day; Erik Gudbranson (personal reasons) is day-to-day; Joey Daccord (lower body) is on IR; Colin White (upper body) is on IR; Austin Watson (hand) is on IR; Micheal Haley (groin) is on IR.