The Oilers close out this homestand by playing host to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday at 7 p.m. MT. It can be seen on Sportsnet or heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
EDMONTON, AB – The Oilers heavily outshot Philadelphia and while the Flyers managed to hang around until the third period, Edmonton pulled away and downed the visitors 4-2.
“That was one of our better games this year,” said Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who scored two goals. “The first period I think was our best period of the year, probably. Second period, there was a little lull at the start. Then they came out harder, more aggressive than we saw in the first. They capitalized on some opportunities but there was a good feeling still between the second and the third. I think right now there is just that confidence that we can get the job done and we can come back if we get down one or two. It’s not ideal all the time, but it’s a good confidence now that we can go out there and do it.”
The Oilers stressed the need for a fast start when they spoke to the media ahead of their game against the Flyers. The shot volume was there with Edmonton outshooting Philadelphia 11-1 in the first 10 minutes of the game. The shot count would climb to 13-1 before the Flyers would register just their second shot on goal at 14:19 of the first.
The pressure was there, but the Oilers couldn’t crack Philadelphia goaltender Michal Neuvirth until there were only 3.2 seconds left on the clock in the first.
“It was something that we touched on for sure before the game,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “Our starts haven’t been great as of late. It’s something we really wanted to key on. I don’t know if we could do a better job other than if we bury a couple more. Although, we did get that one late (in the first) that set us up well in the second.”
Taylor Hall set up Leon Draisaitl in close on the power play, but he couldn’t connect. The 20-year-old forward would still pick up a point however as he in turn set up Nugent-Hopkins on the doorstep for his fourth goal of the season.
Draisaitl would later record another assist and has three goals and four helpers in three games since being recalled from the Bakersfield Condors. Hall and Nugent-Hopkins each extended their point streaks to six games.
The first period ended with the Oilers having a 19-2 lead in shots.
Just 34 seconds into the middle frame, Philadelphia made it a 1-1 game. Scott Laughton was the goal scorer for the Flyers with Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read recording the assists.
6:03 into the second period, Oilers winger Teddy Purcell broke in all alone on Neuvirth. The Flyers goaltender made a great glove save to prevent the Oilers from jumping ahead again.
Despite being outshot 30-15, the Flyers found themselves ahead 2-1 at 12:59 of the middle frame. Ryan White’s slap shot hit the blocker of Oilers goaltender Anders Nilsson but its momentum carried the puck over the goal line. Radko Gudas and Neuvirth got the assists.
2015 first-overall pick Connor McDavid lost an edge, got tangled up with two Flyers players and went hard into the boards toward the end of the second. He did not return to the game.
“He’s got an upper body injury that’s going to keep him out long term and he’s being evaluated right now with the doctors,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan after the game.
Matt Hendricks, in his first game back after missing seven with a lower body injury, scored for the Oilers to tie the game 2-2 at 6:13 of the third. The puck banked off the boards behind the net and Hendricks was there for the easy tap-in. Andrej Sekera earned helper on the equalizer.
“I think I had great support from my linemates tonight,” said Hendricks. “Mark (Letestu) and Teddy really pushed the pace and allowed me to get out and just skate. I didn’t have to do a lot of controlling the puck down low in the defensive zone, I didn’t have to do a lot that has usually been asked of me. I just had to skate. They played great, advancing pucks, and I was able to get in on the forecheck.”
That opened up more scoring for the Oilers as Hall potted his sixth of the year, a backhander, just 1:27 later. He was assisted by Draisaitl and Eric Gryba. Draisaitl has three straight multi-point outings since being recalled on October 29.
“For the most part, we had the momentum for the most of the night,” said Hendricks. “Other than maybe the first 10 minutes of the second period, they kind of poured it on but our game plan was to wear them down, advance pucks, make their D turn. They played last night so we wanted to wear them out. We were able to throw a lot of rubber on net. Maybe not as much traffic as we would have wished. Neuvirth played really well for them. We played a game overall that is going to win us more games than we’re going to lose.”
Neuvirth’s 45-save performance couldn’t propel the Flyers to victory as Nugent-Hopkins scored the empty-net insurance with 43 seconds left and the Oilers completed the 4-2 victory.