EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers host the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Place for a Thanksgiving showdown on Monday.
Edmonton dropped a 3-2 decision against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, while the Jets are still searching for their first win of the 2017-18 campaign after losing their season opener to the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 7-2 then getting doubled up by the Calgary Flames 6-3.
"I think we were willing to work, we just didn't execute very well," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan of his club's effort in Vancouver. "The number of Grade A chances that we gave up were significantly higher than versus Calgary. That was due in part to how they attacked us and also due in large part to some very poor decisions and loose play on our behalf."
The Oilers expect the Jets to try to take off early in tonight's match.
"They're going to be hungry," said Oilers Captain Connor McDavid. "They didn't get off to the start they wanted with the first two and you can bet they're going to be ready to go tonight."
STRENGTHENING THE SPECIAL TEAMS
McLellan and the Oilers assessed the special teams units on Sunday - both their power play and penalty kill.
"Our power play was not nearly good enough (against Vancouver)," said McDavid. "We gave up a lot of chances and didn't create much. That has got to get better."
On the other side of the ice, Edmonton is cognizant of Winnipeg's lethal power play groupings, which feature premier snipers Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. Containing the Jets' stars will be the focus for the club.
"They have a lot of good shooters," continued McDavid. "Scheif in the middle, Laine on the outside, Byfuglien working the top. They have a lot of threats so it's tough to key in on one guy but obviously, Laine's got a shot that's pretty special."
Edmonton will try to reduce their trips to the box on Monday night to avoid getting behind the 8-ball.
"The first thing we do is we don't go to the box seven times like we did in Vancouver," said McLellan. "I can give you 100 different schemes for penalty kill but if we're in the box seven times, they're going to get one or maybe two and that puts you in a deep hole right off the bat."
The Jets are 1-for-11 on the man-advantage thus far this season but McLellan says that doesn't reflect their capabilities.
"I ignore the number that they have because they should have scored four or five already," said Edmonton's head coach. "Our best penalty kill will be smart checking and keeping our sticks on the ice during 5-on-5 play."
The Oilers are 1-for-7 on the man-advantage and have killed seven of the eight penalties called against them.
Edmonton will welcome Anton Slepyshev to the lineup. Slepyshev was previously nursing an ankle injury but the winger is ready to make his 2017-18 debut.
"To me, he looks confident and sure of himself right now," said McLellan. "But he's a month behind."
The Russian winger was sent to the Bakersfield Condors for a brief conditioning stint. Slepyshev dressed with the Condors and by all accounts had a good outing.
"He had an impact on the game," said McLellan. "He led their team in shots on goal and was around the puck a lot. We want him to bring that here tonight. Build on his playoffs from last year where he was a factor and he had a real strong belief in himself."
The Oilers will start Cam Talbot in goal. The keeper is looking to rebound after being pulled on Saturday.
"Last year I proved that I had that ability," Talbot said. "Any time you lose a game, guys are going to look in the mirror and think that they could have done something better but when it comes down to it, those goals (versus the Canucks) were on me."
Forward Kailer Yamamoto will draw back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch Saturday. Iiro Pakarinen will also dress, taking Jujhar Khaira out of tonight's game.
"He'll get minutes," McLellan said of Yamamoto. "Yamo is going to have to be a little more confident now in Game 2. The jitters are gone, he's playing at home again and I believe he can do it."
Drake Caggiula is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
This is the first of three meetings this season between the OIlers and Jets. Last season, the two teams met three times, including outdoors at the Heritage Classic. Edmonton won all three meetings with the last one December 11 at Rogers Place by a score of 3-2.
Oilers team scope:
Anton Slepyshev is expected to make his season debut after missing the pre-season due to injury. He played last Friday in Bakersfield, with a +1 rating and two penalty minutes plus six shots on goal. Slepyshev had three goals in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Connor McDavid finished the 2016-17 season on a 14-game scoring streak, from Mar. 14 - Apr. 9, 2017, posting 23 points (7G, 16A). The streak reached 15 games on Oct. 4, as McDavid posted three goals over Vancouver.
Over the first 129 games of his NHL career, McDavid is averaging 1.17 points per game, with 151 points (49G, 102A).
Jets team scope:
Connor Hellebuyck is expected to get the start in goal tonight for the Jets. Steve Mason allowed 11 goals on 65 shots in his last two games with Winnipeg losing 7-2 to Toronto and 6-3 to Calgary to start the season.
The 13 goals allowed through the first two games is a franchise record, eclipsing the 11 goals the Atlanta Thrashers allowed in the first two games of their expansion season.
By the Numbers:
Jussi Jokinen leads all Oilers in games played against Winnipeg (33) and also has the team high in career points against the Jets, posting 27 points (11G, 16A). Milan Lucic has also played 30 career games against Winnipeg, recording 21 points (8G, 13A). ... Kris Russell registered the 27th multi-point game of his career with two points (one goal, one assist). It was his first multi-point game since last season's opener on October 12 against the Flames.
OILERS -- Defenceman Andrej Sekera (knee) is out.
JETS -- Matt Hendricks (undisclosed injury) is doubtful.