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RECAP: Oilers 3, Wild 0 in Saskatoon

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

SASKATOON, SK  – Anders Nilsson made 25 saves, helping lead the Oilers to a 3-0 pre-season victory over the Minnesota Wild at SaskTel Centre.

The win pushed Edmonton’s record this pre-season to 5-0-0.

“That’s what exhibition is for, develop a little chemistry,” said Oilers winger Rob Klinkhammer. “Wins are always a good thing. You don’t want to be losing these games, that’s for sure. If we can breed a winning culture before the season starts, that’s going to be huge for us.”

The Oilers opened scoring at 18:10 of the first period with a beautiful goal courtesy of Anton Slepyshev. Connor McDavid passed the puck to Leon Draisaitl and the second-year Oilers forward fed Slepyshev out in front, who one-timed the nice pass in past Darcy Kuemper.

Nilsson had to be sharp early on in net for the Oilers. He stopped two point-blank opportunities in the first period, including one shorthanded.

“I thought Anders played well,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “Real early in the game, right off the bat, there were some strange bounces and he was tested right away so he was prepared and ready to play. Then as the game wore on, 2-0 and 3-0, they had a couple more chances that he needed to make some big saves on. He looked big, looked confident and didn’t give up much of the net. When he was out of his crease playing pucks he did a very good job as well.”

Nilsson hasn’t allowed a goal in 42 shots faced this pre-season.

“That’s your goal when you get into every game, to stop every puck,” said the goaltender. “It’s always good for your confidence if you do that and today I felt pretty good, I felt pretty calm and felt like I saw the puck pretty well. I must say the guys in front of me played a great game. They didn’t give them a lot of Grade-A scoring chances. We shut them down very good.

Edmonton had its share of chances in the second period, including one where Slepyshev centred for Draisaitl but the forward couldn’t finish that time and the puck went wide. McDavid made a few eye-popping passes, including a no-looker out in front from behind the net. Kuemper had to go post-to-post to stop Joey LaLeggia’s one-timer with about a minute to go in the period. However, no goals in the middle frame gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead heading into the third.

In the third, the Oilers increased their lead to two. Draisaitl sauced a pass inside for Justin Schultz and the Oilers defenceman passed it back to his partner Oscar Klefbom, who hammered a shot by Kuemper at 9:36.

Klinkhammer potted an empty-net goal at 17:44 of the third to seal the 3-0 win. The Oilers outshot Minnesota 30-25.

“We’ve got to improve in a lot of areas still,” said McLellan. “I thought tonight, we were a little bit loose. The intensity probably wasn’t quite where it has been the last few games, but that’s understandable. We’ve played five games in I think seven or eight nights now. Tomorrow will be a big day for us to get some rest and get right back at it.”
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