EDMONTON, AB - Another crucial two points are on the line tonight as the Oilers host the resurgent New York Islanders led by former Edmonton Oiler Doug Weight. Weight took over as head coach in January when the Islanders were 11 points out of the playoffs. The team is now holding onto the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with 71 points.
"I do know that the team has played well since Dougie's come in," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "I think he's left his mark on the team, the confidence level seems to be higher."
The Islanders' record is 30-23-11 overall and 10-15-5 on the road. Under Weight, the team is 13-6-3.
"One of the big challenges we'll have tonight is making sure our desperation level matches theirs," said McLellan. "We can't fall into a comfort zone thinking that everything's fine. A lot of the teams we're playing with are right on that cusp."
Tonight's game marks an opportunity for a few young Oilers to earn some personal accolades.
Oilers rearguard Nurse will suit up in the 100th game of his career.
"It's exciting," said Nurse. "Obviously, as a kid you grow up and you dream of playing in the NHL, these are the milestones that you kind of check off."
Nurse has piled up six goals and 15 points in the 99 games he's played so far in his young career. Although sidelined for a portion of this season with an ankle injury, he's eager to add the feather to his cap.
"It's definitely exciting and it's nice to be able to play 100."
Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl sits at 23 goals and 32 assists, good for 55 points on the year. With four more points this season, the Cologne, Germany product will tie Marco Sturm for the most in a season by a German-born player.
Sturm scored 59 points (29G, 30A) in 2005-06 when he split time between the San Jose Sharks and Boston Bruins.
"It's something that I would like to take over," said Draisaitl. "With that being said, I have a lot of respect for what Marco has done."
The Oilers will likely ice the same lineup as they did on Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.
This is the second and final meeting between the Oilers and Islanders this season and the lone game in Edmonton.
The last time these teams met was on November 5th in Brooklyn, when the Oilers defeated the Islanders by a score of 4-3 in a shootout. Mark Letestu scored the shootout deciding goal for Edmonton, while Patrick Maroon, Leon Draisaitl and Milan Lucic scored for the Oilers.
Oilers team scope:
Since the All-Star Break, the Oilers have played 14 games and are 7-7-0. Over their last nine games, they are 6-3-0 and still have 12 of their next 14 games at Rogers Place.
The Oilers are alone in second place in the Pacific Division, two points ahead of Anaheim and Calgary.
Forward Leon Draisaitl registered an assist vs. Detroit on Mar. 4, giving him 55 points (23G, 32A) in 65 games. That puts him in 24th place in the NHL scoring race, tied with five other players at 55 points, including last year's Maurice Richard Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin (WSH) and Joe Pavelski (SJS), who finished 10th in NHL scoring in 2015-16.
With 55 points, the native of Cologne, Germany is only four points from tying Marco Sturm for the most points in one season by a player from Germany. Sturm had 59 points (29G, 30A) in 2005-06 while with the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks.
Draisaitl also leads the Oilers in goals (23), power play points (20), power play goals (10) and is tied for 11th in the NHL in power play goals. He also ranks third on Edmonton in game winning goals (3).
With a goal against Detroit on Mar. 4, Eberle now has 3670 points (159G, 211A) in 490 games in the NHL, all as an Oiler, ranking him 12th place in all-time Oilers scoring.
Eberle has points in six of his last eight games, for seven points (3G, 4A).
Eberle is the top-scoring current Oiler on the all-time Oiler scoring list. The top-scoring active player is Ales Hemsky, currently with Dallas, who has 477 points (142G, 335A) in 652 games with Edmonton. The native of Regina, Sask. needs 13 points to tie/14 points to move ahead of Kevin Lowe for 11th place in Oilers all-time scoring.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ranks 20th. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are also moving up the career ranks, now occupying 54th and Draisatil is now in 58th place.
Islanders team scope:
The Islanders have 71 points on the season and are in fifth place in the tough Metropolitan Division, but they occupy the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. They are one point ahead of Toronto, two ahead of Florida and three ahead of Tampa Bay and Philadelphia as battle for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference gets tougher.
New York is 20-8-6 on home ice but have struggled on the road this season with a record of 10-15-5.
John Tavares leads the way in scoring for the Isles with 54 points on the season. He has 24 goals as well in 64 games.
Josh Bailey has 12 goals and 45 points in 64 contests. The 45-point total is the best in Bailey's NHL career. His previous best was 41 points which was set in 2014-15 over 70 games. Bailey had 15 goals that season.
Another Islander on his way to a career season is Anders Lee. Lee has 38 points and 23 goals in 63 games this season. His career high is 25 goals and 41 points which were both set in 2014-15 in 76 games.