Edmonton’s second three-game-in-four-nights road trip of February comes to an end tonight in Sin City. The Oilers will face the Golden Knights for just the second time this season. It is also their second visit to Nevada. The sides will meet twice in March, both at Rogers Place.
The Oilers are coming off of a frustrating 4-3 overtime loss in Anaheim last night where the club slept through the opening period. The Golden Knights, meanwhile, also went to overtime against the Ducks last time out. They claimed a 5-4 victory on Sunday night in Orange County.
Mikko Koskinen gets the start for the Oilers, while Marc-Andre Fleury gets the go for the Golden Knights.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Show up on time. The Oilers dominated the last forty minutes against the Ducks on Tuesday, but it was only good for a single point. Why? They were putrid in the first period and spotted a lesser team a 2-0 lead. They cannot afford to do that this evening in Vegas. The Oilers have to be ready to go from the opening drop of the puck if they want any chance against this white-hot Vegas group.
Vegas: Pressure on the puck carrier might just be the recipe to disrupt this Edmonton attack. The Ducks were aggressive and tough on forwards on Tuesday night, making life difficult for the Oilers. It severely limited chances against and frustrated the Oilers early. That’s the key here for the Golden Knights. Aggressive defense and pressure on puck carriers. Force quick decisions and low percentage passes.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Andreas Athanasiou looked lost in the first period. After that, he looked right at home with Connor McDavid and Tyler Ennis. The Greek speedster showed off the wheels and skills that made him a 30 goal man last season. His Oilers debut ended with a loss, but he did collect a goal and an assist. He was extremely good in the final forty minutes. Let’s see what he can do with a little comfort and experience next to 97.
Vegas: The Golden Knights overpaid a bit to get him, but Alec Martinez should help stabilize what had been a weak blueline in the desert. The veteran rearguard isn’t the fastest, but he is a solid shutdown defenseman and has given McDavid issues over the years in LA. Will Peter DeBoer try to deploy him against 97? Will he be assigned the task of limiting Leon Draisaitl? Martinez will be worth watching tonight.
Kris Russell (concussion) remains on LTIR and has no timetable for a return. Oscar Klefbom (shoulder), James Neal (ankle), Kailer Yamamoto (ankle) and Joakim Nygard (hand) are all on IR and out tonight. Matt Benning sits on defense as the lone healthy scratch.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Andreas Athanasiou – Connor McDavid – Tyler Ennis
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Leon Draisaitl – Josh Archibald
Markus Granlund – Riley Sheahan – Alex Chiasson
Jujhar Khaira – Gaetan Haas – Patrick Russell
Darnell Nurse – Ethan Bear
Caleb Jones – Adam Larsson
William Lagesson – Mike Green
The Golden Knights not only acquired the above mentioned Martinez, but also swung deals for Nick Cousins and Robin Lehner on trade deadline day. Alex Tuch (leg) is the only injury for the Golden Knights at this time. He is considered week-to-week.
Vegas Golden Knights Lines:
Jonathan Marchessault – Paul Stastny – Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty – William Karlsson – Mark Stone
Nick Cousins – Chandler Stephenson – Nicolas Roy
Will Carrier – Tomas Nosek – Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb – Nate Schmidt
Alec Martinez – Shea Theodore
Nick Holden – Zach Whitecloud
“We got behind and we came back to get a point, but it’s frustrating,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said after last night’s loss to the Ducks. “I’d like to see us play 60 minutes tomorrow night.”
The Oilers have done a good job of playing a full 60 minutes coming off of a loss. They’ve done an even better job doing that on the second half of back-to-back sets. The Oilers are a terrific 6-0-0 this season on the second half of the two-in-two sets so common in today’s NHL. They’ll look to continue that tonight.
It’s no surprise that the Oilers powerplay ranks first in the NHL this season. The unit scored again last night, this time with Leon Draisaitl lighting the lamp in the third period. They’ll face a Vegas penalty kill that ranks 23rd in the NHL with a 77.7% success rate. That seems like, on paper at least, a massive mismatch.