October 12, 2017 7:15 pm

Nugent-Hopkins strong despite back-to-back losses for Edmonton Oilers

Calgary Flames forward Marek Hrivik (46) and Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) during first period NHL preseason split-squad hockey action in Edmonton, Alta., on Monday September 18, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
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The Edmonton have lost two games in a row, but centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in both those games and looked like one of the few players engaged in the action on almost every shift.

“Arguably, he’s been our best forward,” head coach Todd McLellan said. “He’s played very competitively all over the rink on both sides of the puck. [I] haven’t seen a lot of cheat in his game. Some of other guys we expect to be productive aren’t doing those things and guess what? They have goose eggs.”

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READ MORE: Ehlers’ hat trick lifts Winnipeg Jets past Edmonton Oilers 

After tallying on the power play Saturday in Vancouver, Nugent-Hopkins scored a spectacular goal Monday against Winnipeg. He took a pass from Darnell Nurse while splitting the Jets’ defence. Despite being bothered from behind, Nugent-Hopkins lifted a shot perfectly under the cross bar.

“I think right now I’m skating a little bit more, keeping my feet moving. I don’t want to be standing still so much and waiting for a play to develop. I have to read plays before they develop and react to them,” said Nugent-Hopkins.

READ MORE: Oilers come up short against Canucks 

Centre Leon Draisaitl missed practice again on Thursday with an eye issue.

“The swelling has come down in his eye,” McLellan said. “[It’s] still not safe to put him on the ice today.”

The Oilers will host the Ottawa Senators Saturday night.

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