“No matter how bounces go in a game we stick with our game plan, we get pucks to the net, we turn up the heat a little bit and we’re able to respond,” Oilers forward Evander Kane said after the game.
It capped a 5-0 homestand for the Oilers.
“You can look at the teams we’ve played and say they’re not very good, but those are tough games,” Kane said. “I thought it was a good test for our group and now we go on the road.”
The Oilers started quickly. With goalie Jon Gillies caught out of position, Leon Draisaitl crammed in his 41st of the season just 1:11 into the game. Gillies came up big less than 30 seconds later, stopping Warren Foegele on a breakaway.
“We put a premium on starting well and we were talking a lot about early urgency and wanting to sink our teeth into the other team immediately,” Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft said.
The Devils played well after that and tied the game on a breakaway by Jesper Bratt.
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Mikko Koskinen made some big saves to keep it 1-1 in the second period. Late in the second, Evander Kane stuffed home a wraparound for his 11th. It wasn’t initially ruled a goal on the ice, but video review showed the puck crossed the line before hitting Gillies’ pad.
“I just try to bring my attributes to the team in whatever team I’m on, and try to be a positive player for our group,” Kane said of his contributions to the Oilers since signing as a free agent.
Bratt tied it 26 seconds into the third when he banked a shot from the side of the net in off Koskinen. Less than three minutes later, Bratt was stopped on a breakaway, but Nico Hischier shoveled home the rebound to put the Devils up 3-2.
“It wasn’t according to script to give up two goals in the first few minutes of the third period there,” Woodcroft said post-game. “But I liked what our players were saying on the bench, how they were supporting each other and how their belief system didn’t waiver.”
“They have some shifty players who can make plays and I think maybe we fell asleep for a second there, but I think our team did a good job grabbing it and pulling it back together,” Draisaitl said.
Tyson Barrie would tie it with 10:56 left. He fired a bad angle shot over Gillies’ shoulder. Kane swept in a power play goal to restore the Oilers lead with 7:57 to go. Only 49 seconds later, Leon Draisaitl’s pass went in off Zach Hyman’s skate. It was Hyman’s 21st of the season. Connor McDavid added an empty netter to give him a goal in five straight games.
“For our team to maintain our shape and continue to press forward — I thought that was a good sign and bodes well for us moving forward,” Woodcroft said.
The Oilers, 35-23-4, will visit the Colorado Avalanche on Monday (630 CHED, Face-off Show 6 p.m., game at 7:30 p.m.).
— with files from Brenden Escott, 630 CHED.