EDMONTON, AB - The Edmonton Oilers earned their first post-Olympic break win on Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators. The win put a stop to a three-game slide, however the Oilers overall record in their last ten games speaks to improvement. Edmonton is 6-2-2 in their last 10, heading into their showdown with the New York Islanders tonight.
“Are we 6-2-2 in our last 10? I had a buddy of mine text me that yesterday and it didn’t feel like it,” Eakins said. “I immediately text (the Oilers PR staff) and asked him, are we really 6-2-2 in our last 10? Because I’m more of a game-to-game guy. That says that yes, we have been playing better but as always, you’ve got things and it’s never going to be enough. It just never is and you’re always looking for corrections.
“I think our goaltending has allowed us to win some games, as of late. We’re still not getting enough pucks to the net for me, which is affecting our offence. I thought last game after we switching up some lines, we started to feel better and we gained some confidence offensively. It’s certainly not as bad as it’s been, but we’re still not where I want to be and we’re certainly not where we want to be as a group, the players included. Because in your last 10, you want to be 10-0 not 6-2-2.”
The Islanders are just 14th in the Western Conference, but have won 11 of their last 14 road games.
With the subtractions from the Oilers roster made yesterday during the NHL’s trade deadline, the Oilers had just five healthy defencemen on their roster. The team recalled defenceman Philip Larsen from the Oklahoma City Barons yesterday and he will suit up for the team tonight.
Larsen, who has been dealing with illness, will play in just his second game since December 19. Larsen said the team and doctors believe he had some sort of virus, however he is completely healthy now and ready to return to action.
“Like I told you guys before about a week ago, I still feel good and I think everything is back to normal,” Larsen said. “Of course, the last couple of days have been a little bit of a roller coaster. It’s that time of year. The most important thing for me right now is just to play and have fun. It’s been a while so, I’m really going to enjoy every minute on the ice.”
Larsen says that once he gets settled into the game, everything will be just fine.
“Me personally, every time you’re injured or you’re out, once you get back the adrenaline gets going and you think everything is fun and it’s just nice to be back out there with the guys. Of course, I’ve got to try to keep my shifts short tonight and keep it simple and just play and have fun. It’s a game like any other.”
With Ales Hemsky being traded to the Senators yesterday, the forward lineup switches more to a skilled heavy top six and a more hard working and checking bottom six, with the offence shifting upward.
David Perron, who is third on the team in points with 43 (23-20-43) and who leads the team in goals, shifts up from the third line to patrol the left wing with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. It is a spot that perhaps caters more to Perron’s abilities.
Ben Scrivens will start in goal.
FASTH TIMES IN EDMONTON
The Oilers acquired goaltender Viktor Fasth from the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday and today was the first day that the new guy stepped on the ice with his new team.
“It feels good,” Fasth said. “The guys have welcomed me here really good. I feel good to be here and I’m really excited about this.”
Fasth is coming from a team in which there was a log jam of talented goaltenders and sees this as a better opportunity for him to play and succeed.
“I see this as a new start and it’s a really good opportunity for me to come to this organization, which I think has something good to build on here, a lot of young skilled guys developing here. I’m real excited to be here.”
Big story: Both teams were active before the NHL Trade Deadline. The Oilers traded goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to the Minnesota Wild before acquiring goalie Viktor Fasth from the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, then shipped forward Ales Hemsky to the Ottawa Senators for draft picks on Wednesday. Edmonton also unloaded defenseman Nick Schultz to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a draft pick.
The Islanders dealt defenseman Andrew MacDonald to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday for draft picks and prospect Matt Mangene before trading Thomas Vanek and a draft pick to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday for prospect Sebastian Collberg and a draft pick.
Islanders: Without MacDonald and Vanek (scratched Tuesday before getting traded), the Islanders still managed to beat the Winnipeg Jets in overtime, 3-2 on a goal by Michael Grabner.
"With everything we've got going on right now, it's about staying together," Jack Capuano told MSG Network after the game. "That's the focus right now."
The Islanders earned their 11th road win in the past 14 games away from Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and continue a four-game Canadian road trip with stops in Calgary and Vancouver after Edmonton.
The loss of Vanek means the Islanders are now without two of their top three scorers with John Tavares (knee) sidelined for the season.
Oilers: The Oilers, who had scored two goals in their previous three games, ended a three-game losing streak with a 3-1 win against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. Hemsky scored two goals for the Oilers against his now-current team. His departure left Sam Gagner, who has been on the team since 2007, as the longest-tenured Oiler.
"It makes me the longest-serving guy here now. Obviously, [Hemsky] has been here the entire time I have. … It's always tough to see teammates go," Gagner said Wednesday. "I think with Ales' situation, you kind of knew it beforehand, but it's still different."
On Fasth, Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish said Tuesday:
"[Fasth has] got a real good record in this League. This year was a little of a setback from some injury standpoints, but it just gives us certainty going into next year with our goaltending."
Who's hot: Grabner and Anders Lee each had a goal Tuesday and both have three goals in four games for the Islanders. … Oilers forward Nail Yakupov has four points in five games.
Injury report: In addition to Tavares, the Islanders could be without Eric Boulton (hand), who left the game Tuesday. … Oilers defenseman Anton Belov (oblique) is on injured reserve. Fasth (lower body), who had completed a conditioning stint in the American Hockey League prior to the trade, didn't arrive in Edmonton in time for practice Wednesday, but is expected to be ready Thursday.