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RECAP: Oilers 3, Islanders 1

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

EDMONTON, AB – Anton Lander put in extra work, shot extra pucks, changed his diet, his sleep hours and tried just about everything to get his game going. Lander had not scored a goal since last season, but 53 games into this one and he could finally put that drought to rest.

Lander tied the game midway through the third. His tally, combined with a strong penalty kill and goals from Leon Draisaitl and Brandon Davidson, pushed the Oilers past the New York Islanders 3-1. Edmonton was previously winless in seven.

“It’s been a tough time, both mentally and physically,” said Lander. “But it’s more important we got a big win too. We’ve been playing pretty good the last few games and I think the group needed a win to see we need to play this way to win games. It was nice to get the first goal, but also to get the big win.”

The Oilers had a scoring chance 6:18 into the game when Taylor Hall fired a shot on net and Zack Kassian crashed the crease. However, Jaroslav Halak locked it down between the pipes and prevented a dangerous rebound from escaping.

With a little over three minutes remaining in the first, the Oilers line of Benoit Pouliot, Connor McDavid and Jordan Eberle hemmed the Islanders in their zone for an extended shift but couldn’t bury the biscuit. They did overtake the lead in shots at that point, pushing back against an Islanders team that came out firing very early on in the first.

Midway through the second, the Oilers had a 3-on-1 rush toward the Islanders net but Hall couldn’t connect with Kassian backdoor for what would have been a great scoring chance.

Adam Clendening left the ice with 2:17 left to go in the second after taking a puck to the face in the slot. He would return to the bench in short order, though.

Seconds after the Oilers defenceman fell to the ice, Casey Cizikas scored by spinning around and whipping a shot on net. Cizikas’ goal was assisted by Nick Leddy and Cal Clutterbuck, and gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead.

The Oilers had looked for a better performance than the last time the two teams met, which was an 8-1 loss in Brooklyn on February 7. The Islanders held a 7-1 lead heading to the third in that meeting. It was a different story tonight, with New York only being up one goal heading into the final frame.

The Islanders got back-to-back power-play opportunities courtesy of a Kassian roughing call and an Eberle tripping penalty. Edmonton’s penalty kill was up to the task, keeping things 1-0.

The Oilers drew even with the Islanders at 10:12 of the third with Lander’s first goal of the season. Davidson sauced a pass to Jordan Oesterle, who fed Lander down low and the centre fired a shot past Halak. The monkey is finally free from Lander’s back as it was his first goal since March 16, 2015.

“Our bench was truly excited for him,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “Anton is a great kid. There’s nobody who wanted him to score more than the 20 guys who had the uniform on tonight and the guys meeting the team as they were coming off. We’re all happy for him. We want him to be successful and he wants to be successful. It’s a weight off his shoulders. He may get on a roll now, just because there’s relief. We’re happy for him.”

Rexall Place erupted when Draisaitl went to the net and backhanded a rebound past Halak at 11:07 of the final frame. The goal, Draisaitl’s 16th of the season, put Edmonton on top 2-1. Hall and Kassian had the assists.

The Oilers had to kill off a Mark Letestu tripping penalty at 13:37 of the third, and did just that to maintain the lead.

Davidson provided the necessary cushion, hammering home a one-timer at 16:57, giving Edmonton a 3-1 lead. Eberle and McDavid recorded the helpers.

“Huge,” Davidson said of the win. “I think everybody can go home tonight and have a good sleep. I think the effort has been there the last three games and it’s nice to get rewarded, especially after the hard work and effort we put in.”

Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot was also very strong in net, making 36 saves.

Following tomorrow’s NHL Trade Deadline, the Oilers will hit the road for four games. Their road swing begins in Buffalo on Tuesday in a battle between the 2015 first-overall and second-overall picks, with McDavid and Jack Eichel meeting for the first time. Then the Oilers head to Philadelphia, Columbus and Winnipeg for a total of four games in six nights.
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