Oilers look for sharpness, consistency in visit to Seattle
Edmonton Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft considers the post-holiday break the “next phase” of the NHL season.
So far, so good.
The Oilers beat host Calgary 2-1 on Tuesday night to move into a tie with Seattle for third place in the Pacific Division. Calgary then moved ahead in the three-team battle for third by defeating the Kraken the following day.
Edmonton will have a chance to pull ahead of the Kraken — and the rival Flames — when it plays Friday night in Seattle.
“We’re like a lot of teams in the NHL right now. We’re looking for a measure of consistency,” Woodcroft said. “Our hope is that our focus is sharp. Now we’re after Christmas. We’ve got 14 games left before the All-Star break. this. There are plenty of divisional games left on that calendar.
“But you’ve heard me say since the first day I got up here — that our focus is to be the best we can be every day, every day. We are not worried about the 14 games ahead of us. We worry about being the best we can be on the day and we were pretty good (on Tuesday) and I’m happy we got the result.”
Connor McDavid scored the game-winning goal against the Flames early in the third period to extend his point streak to 16 games (15 goals, 17 assists), one shy of his career-high last season.
McDavid leads the league with 31 goals and 67 points this season.
“I’m always trying to play well, like everybody,” McDavid said. “I am no different from anyone else. I’m just trying to play well and do my part and that’s all.
“It always feels good to win in this building (Saddledome). Our team historically has always struggled after the break, so it’s important for us to come out of the break hot and it’s a big win for us.”
Goaltender Stuart Skinner also came up big for the Oilers, making 46 saves. Oilers’ Tyson Barrie added his 100th career NHL goal.
“It’s a tough game after the break,” Barrie said. “Travel the day and enter a tough building in a big game where we are both fighting for points. ‘Stuey’ was great. But it was heavy… (and) we found a way. Coming down here, we’re going to have to be able to play those low-scoring games and find a way to duplicate that.”
The Kraken have lost their last two, including a 3-2 decision to visiting Calgary on Wednesday that allowed the Flames to move past them into third place in the division. Seattle has played four fewer games than Calgary and three fewer than Edmonton.
Goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer made 41 saves for the Kraken, but it wasn’t enough.
“I thought in the second half (of the game) we didn’t create enough time in the zone,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “To be able to get into the zone and then be able to hold onto the ball and do some work in the offensive zone and create some opportunities, we didn’t have enough of that in the second half.”
This will be the first of four meetings of the season between the Oilers and the Kraken, with the second coming on Tuesday night in Edmonton (after the Kraken host the New York Islanders on Sunday).
– Field level media