After hitting their offensive stride against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Edmonton Oilers hope to keep rolling when they face the St. Louis Blues Saturday to continue their season-opening six-game homestand.
The Oilers rebounded from back-to-back losses to Calgary and Buffalo to skate past the Hurricanes 6-4 on Thursday.
“Being 2-2 is nothing to write home about, but we’ll take it,” said Connor McDavid, who leads the Oilers with 10 points (five goals, five assists) in four games. “We don’t want it to be as scrambly as it has been, but that is hockey in October. There are mistakes made, but you have to find ways to get wins. They count just the same now as they do later in the year.”
Looking for more offense, Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft moved Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from third-line center to left wing on the line with Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman. The trio produced eight points against the Hurricanes.
“I think good teams need to rise to the challenge when they’re playing other good teams,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “We knew what to expect. We knew they were a good team and they play hard. They don’t give up a whole lot. We had that mentality going in, keeping it simple and just trying to outwork them every shift.
“I’m pretty proud of the group to bounce back after a couple of tough games. There was no panic in here. We just have to keep going now.”
Edmonton goaltender Jack Campbell faced 40 shots in the wide-open game and made 36 saves. Campbell, who went to Edmonton as a free agent following two-plus seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, is 2-1-0 with a 5.08 goals-against average with his new team.
The Blues opened their season with victories over Columbus at home and Seattle on the road. Goaltender Jordan Binnington won both games while posting a 2.46 GAA and a .917 save percentage.
Binnington struggled while producing poor ratios (3.13 GAA, .901 save percentage) last season. Then he suffered a knee injury that cut short his much-improved postseason performance (1.72 GAA, .949 save percentage).
The Blues lost goaltender Ville Husso to free agency, so they are counting on Binnington to regain his previous form.
“He was really good, made some really good saves,” coach Craig Berube said of Binnington. “He’s been solid for us right through training camp to now. What happens in the preseason doesn’t always carry over to the regular season — that’s true in basically every professional team sport.”
Binnington has carried the confidence built during the preseason into the games that count.
“I feel calm,” Binnington said. “It doesn’t stop. You can’t think about that for a second. You have to keep working and keep your head down and keep building. It’s early. We’ve got to keep coming together as a team. We can be better.”
Blues forwards Logan Brown (upper body) and Pavel Buchnevich (lower body) are questionable for this game.
Buchnevich’s injury forced Berube to move third-line center Brayden Schenn up to left wing with Robert Thomas and Vladimir Tarasenko on the top line. Those three forwards have scored 12 points combined in the first two games.
Josh Leivo made his Blues debut in Seattle on the third line with Ivan Barbashev and Jake Neighbours.
–Field Level Media