The Oilers close out this back-to-back in Columbus against the Blue Jackets Friday at 5 p.m. MT. The game can be seen on Sportsnet West and heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
PHILADELPHIA, PA – Four straight goals, three straight wins!
The Oilers got goals from Nail Yakupov, Taylor Hall, newcomer Patrick Maroon and Lauri Korpikoski, along with 35 saves from Cam Talbot, as they earned their third consecutive win with a 4-0 shutout over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
Sixty-six games into the 2015-16 season, the Oilers earned their 25th win, surpassing their 2014-15 total with 16 games remaining. In addition to earning their third straight victory, Thursday’s dominant effort marked the fifth game in a row where the team has been quite happy with their effort, despite only getting one point in two Southern California stops last week.
“It’s been a fun brand of hockey for us to play,” Hall said. “It all started in that LA game. We went up against a really tough opponent, we tried to play like them, and it’s been working out for us. Lots of grit… it’s been fun.”
After contributing both goals during Tuesday’s 2-1 OT win over the Buffalo Sabres, the Yakupov-McDavid-Eberle line picked up right where they left off, putting the Oilers up 1-0 after 20 minutes. Connor McDavid got the puck at his own blueline, exploded around Evgeny Medvedev and broke in on goalie Michal Neuvirth. His deke was stopped, but Yakupov buried the rebound at 11:20.
The red-hot trio contributed eight of the Oilers 14 shots in the opening frame (five from Yakupov) as they outshot the Flyers 14-6. The Russian winger earned his sixth goal and 16th point of the season, McDavid picked up his 32nd point in 29 games (20th point in 16 games since he returned to the lineup) and Jordan Eberle hit the 40-point plateau with the second assist.
McDavid’s explosive speed was on display for the Oilers goal, but his rookie sensation counterpart Shane Gostisbehere also showed off some skills in the first. Anchoring the Flyers PP unit, the blueliner had a few big blasts from the point and even rang one off the post, but the Oilers escaped the period with a 1-0 advantage.
The Flyers had a pair of power plays in the early stages of the middle frame, bringing the shots back up to even, but they weren’t able to find the back of the net, despite striking iron for the third time of the game. A diving effort from Korpikoski and quick reflexes from Talbot also saved another prime scoring opportunity later in the period.
Perhaps feeling the surge from the home side, the Oilers scored two quick goals late in the period to take a 3-0 lead through 40 minutes, courtesy Hall and then Maroon in his debut.
Hall made a brilliant individual effort at 14:22, beating Gostisbehere to a loose puck in the neutral zone, bursting in on goal and beating Neuvirth with a deke to his forehand and top-shelf finish. The highlight-reel tally was Taylor’s 21st goal and 55th point of the season, unassisted. Hall needs seven more goals this season to set a career high.
“As an offensive player, you love seeing the puck squeak out,” said Hall, who tumbled hard into the boards right after he scored but said he’s no worse for wear. “If I can get breakaways like that every game, it’s a fun game to play.”
Just 1:49 later, Edmonton extended its lead to three as Maroon jammed home a rebound in his first game since Monday’s deadline day acquisition from the Anaheim Ducks. Fellow new guy Adam Pardy, claimed via waivers from the Winnipeg Jets also on Monday, put a shot on net from the point, and Maroon used his 6-foot-3, 230-pound frame to box out the defenders and beat Neuvirth on his second attempt.
“I haven’t scored in a while, so that always feels good to get the monkey off your back,” said Maroon, who last lit the lamp Feb. 21. “I was just trying to come in here and play my game, play physical, protect pucks, take pucks to the net and go to the net. That’s my job… I’ve just got to be big and strong.”
Maroon had four goals with the Ducks this season, picking up his fifth tally and 16th point on Thursday. Pardy, meanwhile, got his second point of the season and first with the Oilers, while going +3 through 40 minutes. Fellow d-man Brandon Davidson was credited with the second assist for his 11th point of the season. He had a +2 rating through 40 minutes.
The exclamation point on the victory came courtesy a Korpikoski shorthanded marker midway through the third period. With Zack Kassian serving a high-sticking double-minor, Mark Letestu stole the puck on a forecheck and set up Korpikoski for a one-timer, his seventh goal and 16th point of the year. Letestu, meanwhile, got his 17th point with the setup.
With his sterling 35-save performance, Talbot now has a scorching .966 save percentage in his last five starts, posting more than 30 saves each game. The goalie tipped his cap to the Oilers PK, which killed all seven Flyers power plays, in addition to Letestu and Korpikoski contributing the SHG. The team also combined to block 28 shots, five each from Pardy and Andrej Sekera.
“I felt pretty comfortable again tonight, the PK did a heck of a job in front of me, and it was a big two points for this group,” Talbot said. “When they’re willing to put their bodies in those shooting lanes and block those shots with not much padding, it says a lot about them and a lot about their willingness to win. When we’re doing the right things like that, there aren’t too many games where we’re not going to come out on top.”
The Oilers will look to make it four straight wins when they fly to Columbus for Friday night’s game against the Blue Jackets. The second game of this road trip’s back-to-back segment will be the second meeting between the Oil and Jackets this season, and second in just over a month. McDavid scored once and added two helpers in his first game back from injury, as Edmonton won 5-1 on Feb. 2 at Rexall Place.