The Edmonton Oilers will look to start a new winning streak on Monday night as they continue their four-game road trip. After dropping a 6-4 decision in Calgary on Saturday, the Oilers are once again looking to get back to .500 as they take on the Senators for the third time in four games.
This is the third of nine meetings this season between the Oilers and the Senators. It is also the first meeting of the season between the sides in the Canadian capital. The Oilers took each of the first two meetings last week at Rogers Place, wining 8-5 in game one and 4-2 in game two.
Matt Murray will get the nod for the Senators, while Mike Smith gets the start for the Oilers.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Keep it simple. In the words of their coach, the Oilers played a simple, north/south kind of game in the first period on Saturday night. The result? A 2-1 lead on the scoreboard, and a 17-3 advantage in shots. The Oilers got away from that in the final forty minutes, and combined with a lack of saves it cost them two big points. They need to get back to basics tonight against a team they should beat.
Ottawa: Stay disciplined. The Senators can place a majority of the blame on their goaltending for their two losses in Edmonton, but the penalty kill as a whole was a real issue. Edmonton’s powerplay is clicking now, and the Senators are not good enough to win games win they spot teams a goal or two on the advantage. Ottawa needs to play a smart brand of hockey tonight.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Mike Smith was injured in warmups on opening night, and has yet to make his season debut. That changes tonight, as the veteran will take the net for the first time since his disaster of an outing in Game One against the Blackhawks in August. When Smith is on, he can be a solid goalie who provides swagger, leadership and puck moving ability. Can he be that guy tonight? The Oilers badly need him to be.
Ottawa: Matt Murray made just six saves on nine shots on January 31st when he last saw the Edmonton Oilers. In fact, Murray was beaten on the very first shot of the hockey game. The good news for Murray? He rebounded with a 36 save victory against Montreal in his next start, and stopped 30 of 32 against the Habs on Saturday in a loss. Which Murray shows up tonight will go a long way towards determining the outcome.
The Oilers placed F Gaetan Haas, who missed Saturday’s game, on IR earlier today and recalled F Tyler Ennis from the taxi squad. In addition, Dave Tippett confirmed that Ethan Bear would not be available for tonight’s game. It’s the third game in a row that he will not play. The Oilers are likely to run with eleven forwards and seven defensemen again, but no lineup has been confirmed.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi
Dominik Kahun – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
James Neal – Kyle Turris – Zack Kassian
Jujhar Khaira – Josh Archibald
Darnell Nurse – Tyson Barrie
William Lagesson – Adam Larsson
Kris Russell – Evan Bouchard
The Senators, who got Thomas Chabot back in their game against the Oilers last Tuesday, are relatively healthy now. Their only loss is D Christian Wolanin, who is currently on IR with a lower body injury.
Ottawa Senators Lines:
Brady Tkachuk – Josh Norris – Evgenii Dadonov
Nick Paul – Colin White – Drake Batherson
Tim Stutzle – Chris Tierney – Connor Brown
Alex Galchenyuk – Derek Stepan – Austin Watson
Thomas Chabot – Nikita Zaitsev
Mike Reilly – Artem Zub
Erik Brannstrom – Erik Gudbranson
“It’s about consistency,” Mike Smith said on Monday in advance of his first start. “Consistency is a thing that separates you from being a mediocre team to being a really good playoff team every single season. We know we can score but it’s the balance of knowing when to go, knowing what time it is in the game, what the score is and managing the clock a lot better than we have.”
This will be the third back-to-back set for the Oilers this season. They split their first set with the Vancouver Canucks, dropping the first game 5-3 before rebounding with a 5-2 victory. Their second set? They swept it, beating the Maple Leafs 4-3 in overtime on January 30th and the Senators 8-5 on January 31st.
Both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have feasted on the Senators’ weak defensive group early in this season series. Both McDavid and Draisaitl have seven points in two games, with each player scoring a single goal and adding six assists. Tyson Barrie, meanwhile, has four points (1 g, 3 a) in two games against Ottawa as an Oiler.