Preview: Devils at Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers have cooled off after a scorching hot start to the season and will look to get moving in a positive direction again when they host the New Jersey Devils on Friday night. The Oilers won seven of the season’s first eight contests, but have suffered six losses in their last nine outings (3-4-2) after failing the test against reigning Stanley Cup champion St. Louis 5-2 on Wednesday.
"This was a lesson for us,” Edmonton defenseman Oscar Klefbom told reporters after Wednesday’s setback. “This was a playoff game and obviously we have a long way to go. It was a tight game, and we took some stupid penalties and that cost us. … They are solid in all three zones and we have to find a way to win these games.” Two-time Art Ross Trophy winner Connor McDavid (398 career points) scored on the power play late in regulation and Leon Draisaitl registered the deciding goal in the shootout for a 4-3 victory at New Jersey on Oct. 10 after losing at home against the Devils last March. New Jersey saw its four-game point streak (2-0-2) come to an end Thursday after giving up the final four goals of the contest in a 5-2 setback at Calgary despite another big night from rookie Jack Hughes. The 18-year-old center had a goal along with an assist in the loss and boasts all of his nine points in the last eight games, scoring four times in the past seven outings.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, MSG Plus (New Jersey), Sportsnet West (Edmonton)
ABOUT THE DEVILS (4-6-4): Left wing Taylor Hall helped set up Hughes’ goal Thursday and leads the team with 14 points (12 assists) while Kyle Palmieri is the only other New Jersey player in double figures with 10. Nikita Gusev, a 27-year-old rookie from Russia, notched his fourth goal of the season in his second game back after being a healthy scratch in three straight and defenseman Will Butcher recorded his fourth assist in five games Thursday. Mackenzie Blackwood made 33 saves against Calgary in his fourth straight start and struggling Cory Schneider (0-3-1) could be called upon for his first start since giving up seven in an overtime loss to Tampa Bay on Oct. 30.
ABOUT THE OILERS (10-5-2): One of the question marks for Edmonton when the season began was secondary scoring and, after a hot start to the season, that is becoming a concern again. Draisaitl (13), James Neal (11) and McDavid (8) have 68 percent of the goals and 53 percent of the points while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - a 28-goal scorer last season - has one and fellow forward Alex Chiasson is looking for his first tally after recording a career-best 22 in 2018-19. Colby Cave got sent to AHL Bakersfield and fellow forward Tomas Jurco was waived Thursday, meaning forwards Josh Archibald, Riley Sheahan and Joakim Nygard are close to returning from injuries.
1.The Devils had at least one power-play goal in six straight contests before going 0-for-6 combined in the last two games.
2. Edmonton RW Zack Kassian boasts a team-best plus-10 rating after combining for a minus-14 over the previous two seasons.
3. Hall has a goal and two assists in six games against the Oilers, who drafted him first overall in the 2010.
PREDICTION: Oilers 5, Devils 2