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RECAP: Oilers 3, Red Wings 1

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

EDMONTON, AB – A two-goal second period, highlighted by a dazzling goal by a first-overall pick, helped the Oilers build their lead and hand the Detroit Red Wings a 3-1 loss.

It was a good win,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “It’s one that we’ll bank and be proud of, but there are still areas of our game we have to get better in. We’re going to be saying that into February. Keep plugging away.”

The Oilers came into the game having not beat Detroit in regulation since December 3, 2009. The Red Wings had earned points in 29 of the last 30 meetings. However, the Oilers controlled the game and handed the visitors a regulation loss, only their third in the last 48 games of this series.

At 12:32 of the opening frame, Mark Letestu put Edmonton up 1-0. Letestu was waiting at the top of the crease and Nail Yakupov found him with a nice feed for the easy power play goal. With his assist, Yakupov has recorded at least a point in three straight games, and four of the last five.

Letestu’s goal was the Elk Point, AB native’s first as a member of the Oilers.

“That’s part of what’s awesome being from Alberta, is the opportunity to play for the Oilers,” said Letestu. “It’s something I take a lot of pride in. To be able to help the team out with a good goal tonight to get the team started feels pretty good.”

Edmonton has scored first in five of their seven games of the season. Their record when potting the game’s first goal is 3-2-0.

Early in the second, Oilers rookie Connor McDavid stole the puck from Gustav Nyquist and set up Letestu on a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush. Letestu couldn’t finish the play but the Oilers killed off the penalty.

McDavid got that play back and then some at 6:34 of the middle frame. Yakupov made a nice play in his own end and it was Benoit Pouliot who hit McDavid on a 2-on-1 rush. The 2015 first-overall pick had to shake off a Detroit player before undressing goaltender Petr Mrazek for the highlight reel goal, his fourth of the season.

“(Yakupov) made a great play on the wall, battling off a couple guys and chipping it there to Benny and then, obviously, Benny made a great pass. It’s a credit to those guys,” said McDavid.

McDavid, just like Yakupov, has points in three straight games and four of the last five. All four of his goals have come in the last five games.

“We’re going to need them,” said Letestu. “That’s going to be their role. Nail is a young guy but he’s played a few years in this league now. You can tell he’s starting to step up in a leadership role, as far as leading the team offensively. He’s kind of been a catalyst the last few games around the puck, getting shots off and making plays.

“Connor is just scratching the surface. I think there’s even more he’s going to be able to bring. It’s good to see him get some goals and get rewarded. Both of them are going to be good.”

Smelling blood in the water, the Oil went up 3-0 at 7:04 of the period. Another odd-man rush resulted in the puck being buried behind Mrazek. The puck pin-balled around and went in off a Detroit player. It was credited to Teddy Purcell, assisted by Lauri Korpikoski and Mark Fayne.

Tomas Tatar potted a rebound to make it a 3-1 game at 6:49 of the third period. Nyquist had the initial chance and earned the assist. That goal spoiled Talbot’s shutout bid, but he finished the game with 28 saves.

The Oilers have won three straight games and will try and make it four on Friday night when they host the Washington Capitals.

“The expectation is to win every game here,” said Letestu. “I wasn’t here prior to this, but there is a feeling in here that we have an opportunity to compete and win every game. The focus won’t change when Washington comes in here. Very similar team, good power play, but we can hang with anybody when we’re going.”
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