OTTAWA, ON - The Oilers will have two performances on their mind tonight as they wrap up their four-game Eastern Conference road trip against the Ottawa Senators.
First, they will look to repeat the level of domination they displayed against the New Jersey Devils last night, as they outshot their opponent 43-20. Goaltender Cory Schneider was the only obstacle standing in their way of a blowout win, but they managed to secure two points with a 2-1 OT decision.
Edmonton will also reference its first matchup of the season against the Senators back on Sunday, Oct. 30. The Oilers controlled the majority of that game as well, outshooting Ottawa 37-22, but goalie Craig Anderson stopped every shot he faced and the Senators emerged with a 2-0 win.
The Oilers struggled on the PP that night, coming up empty on four opportunities. They will look to duplicate the domination but reverse the result during tonight's road trip finale.
"We did outplay them, and they got a good goaltending performance," said Mark Letestu, who scored last night's OT winner vs. New Jersey. "Something we've talked about is our power play wasn't very effective that night. That led to a lot of internal frustration, which isn't very constructive for our group. We expect our power play, our special teams to be a catalyst tonight, especially on the end of a back-to-back at the end of a road trip."
"We played a really good game offensively yesterday, so we've got to stick with it," added Oscar Klefbom, who had nine of Edmonton's 43 shots last night. "We've got to win games like this if we want to be a playoff team at the end of the year. It's a huge game for us tonight."
SPECIAL TEAMS SPECIALIST
Letestu has been a special teams dynamo for the Oilers this season. His overtime PPG in New Jersey was his eighth goal of the season, fourth on the PP and sixth on special teams, with two more coming shorthanded. Four of Letestu's eight goals this season have also been game-winners.
In his 438 career NHL games, Letestu has scored 23 power-play goals, adding 26 assists on the man advantage. Four of his 11 career game-winners have come this season.
"It's kind of been a role I've been in throughout my career," Letestu said of the PP. "Sometimes, with the amount of talent that's brought in at training camp or that this roster has, the opportunity doesn't come until a little bit later in the year like it did this year. But it's something I prepare for every year. When the opportunity comes, I just have to be ready to make the most of it."
Despite his success finding the back of the net on the PP, Letestu said his focus is more about putting his teammates in position to convert, rather than looking to shoot and score himself.
"Just getting the puck to the net consistently to break down penalty kills and allow our bigger bodies to have success has really been my role," he said. "The one happened to go in last night, which was nice."
Head Coach Todd McLellan said following the team's morning workout and meetings that Jonas Gustavsson will start between the pipes for the Oilers vs. Ottawa.
Cam Talbot leads the NHL with 37 starts and ranks second in wins with 20, but with the team playing the second half of a back-to-back, Gustavsson will make his fifth start of the season. The 32-year-old Swede has a 1-2-1 record with a 2.90 GAA and .893 save percentage.
No other changes to the lineup are expected. Brandon Davidson (illness) is available to return to action, but the Oilers will likely stick with their winning lineup from last night.
-- Ryan Frankson, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (21-13-7) at SENATORS (20-14-4)
TV: 5:00 p.m. MST; Televised on Sportsnet
Tonight marks the second and final meeting this season between the Oilers and Senators. The prior meeting was on October 30 where Craig Anderson stopped 37 shots to lead the Sens to a 2-0 win over the Oilers at Rogers Place.
Oilers team scope:
This is the fourth and final game for the Oilers on their four-game road trip. The trip opened with a 3-1 loss in Columbus but on Thursday Edmonton defeated Boston 4-3 and last night, the Oilers clipped New Jersey 2-1 in overtime.
Edmonton has picked up at least a point in 11 of their last 13 road games (7-2-4) and are only one point behind Anaheim and San Jose for top spot in the Pacific Division.
Connor McDavid continues to lead the NHL with 46 points (14 goals, 32 assists) through the midway point of the season (41 games). In his career against the Senators, McDavid has three assists in three games.
Milan Lucic leads all Oilers with 26 points (in 41 career games) against the Senators. Lucic also has 26 points through 41 games this season for Edmonton.
Senators team scope:
Ottawa has dropped each of its last four games and are clinging to third place and a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division, tied with Toronto at 44 points. They do have a game in hand on the Leafs, however.
The four straight losses have come in games against the Rangers, Red Wings and two against Washington. Prior to that, the Sens had won four in a row with victories over New Jersey, NY Islanders, Chicago and Anaheim heading into Christmas.
Defenceman Erik Karlsson leads the Senators in scoring with 32 points in 38 games. Mark Stone is second on the club with 28 points in 37 contests.
Karlsson has 11 points in 12 career games against the Oilers. Dion Phaneuf has 30 points in 44 career games against Edmonton and Bobby Ryan has 22 points in 25 career contests versus the Oil.