‘Things are looking up’ for the Oilers


That was Justin Schultz in the above video, saying how “things are looking up” for his Edmonton Oilers after three straight solid efforts on the road, including last night’s 4-3 overtime win in Montreal over the first-place team in the Atlantic Division.

Edmonton, playing without Taylor Hall for the fifth straight game, ended up outshooting the Habs, 38-26, in Thursday’s contest, one that left Montreal coach Michel Therrien to concede, “We were lucky to get one point.”

It wasn’t just a one-off either. The Oilers played the Islanders close Tuesday, despite losing 3-2, and they won the night before in New Jersey, 2-1, while holding the Devils to just 14 shots.

“That’s three good games in a row for us,” said coach Todd Nelson. “We just want to keep this thing going.”

Now, granted, the Oilers playing well at this point in the season may seem pointless. It may even seem counterproductive, given the incentive to out-terrible the Sabres, finish last overall and guarantee themselves one of Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. That said, you can hardly blame the players for trying to win hockey games. That’s their job, and they’ve done enough losing already.

The Oilers take on the Sens Saturday in Ottawa.

Oilers best Sharks in 13-round marathon shootout


The Edmonton Oilers are by far the worst team in the NHL when it comes to protecting a lead established through 40 minutes and tonight looked like it might be another example of that, but they bounced back from their early third period struggles to earn a 5-4 shootout victory.

Edmonton had a 3-1 lead going into the third period, but the Sharks responded with three goals in the first half of the third, including Joe Pavelski’s 27th marker of the season.

For a while it looked like that might be the winner, but Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz managed to even things up in the dying minutes of regulation time.

After overtime failed to solve anything, Edmonton and San Jose settled in for a 13-round shootout. Both Edmonton goalie Viktor Fasth and Sharks netminder Antti Niemi stood tall for much of the skills competition, with Fasth denying 12 of 13 skaters. In the end it was Rob Klinkhammer, who has just 20 goals in 151 career games, that managed to end the contest.

The Oilers have now won four of their last six games and have consequently opened a six-point lead over Buffalo in the battle to avoid the NHL basement. The Sabres have lost 14 straight contests.

At the same time, this was a potentially damaging night for Edmonton. The squad lost forwards Benoit Pouliot and Taylor Hall due to injuries, per the Oilers’ Twitter feed. Pouliot was hurt when he took a shot off his foot while Hall re-aggravated the leg injury that kept him out of Edmonton’s previous three contests.

Report: Justin Schultz to be healthy scratch versus Preds


A “mind-numbing” change that led to a goal Tuesday in Dallas has reportedly landed Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz in the press box for tonight’s game in Nashville.

That was the phrase Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins used to describe the long second-period change, at least.

“I don’t even know what to say about it,” an angry Eakins uttered following the 3-2 loss, the Oilers’ seventh straight defeat. “It’s mind-numbing that at this level we would try to change there.”

Here’s the goal, by Tyler Seguin:

Of course, it’s not just that one change that has Schultz in Eakins’ doghouse. The 24-year-old’s defensive play has been increasingly criticized as the Oilers’ struggles have worsened.

You may recall that, in August, GM Craig MacTavish said Schultz had “Norris Trophy potential.” Hence, the significance of tonight’s healthy scratching of a player that’s appeared in all 22 games this season and leads the team in ice time.

Yesterday, the Oilers called up d-man Oscar Klefbom from the AHL. At the time, the move raised some eyebrows, with some wondering if a trade was imminent. But now we know that’s not the case.

Well, not yet anyway.

Related: Why are the Oilers still bad? Look at their drafting

Video: Oilers win…? Oilers win!


The Edmonton Oilers have been an easy target for criticism early in this NHL season.

But on Monday, not only did they get their first win of the season, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning, expected to be one of the contenders in the Eastern Conference, by a final score of 3-2, but they showed some resolve when needed.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the winner with 3:25 remaining in regulation. From a prime spot, he snapped a wrist shot past Ben Bishop for his first goal of the season.

Timing is everything.

Not only that, but the goal came less than three minutes after the Lightning and Brett Connolly tied the game at 2-2. At their worst last week, allowing 13 goals combined in two games against L.A. and Arizona, the Oilers couldn’t defend and couldn’t get quality goaltending.

Heck, even after the first game, a disgruntled fan tossed an Oilers jersey on to the ice following an Edmonton loss.

Despite a more improved effort, the Oilers still lost to the Vancouver Canucks on Friday, resulting in their worst start in franchise history. With the Lightning in town, it looked like it could get much worse.

But after giving up the first goal early in the second period, Edmonton began to claw back.

Justin Schultz evened the score and then Taylor Hall, dangerous for most of the night, was rewarded with a penalty shot in the second period and he made no mistake with a sweet deke to the backhand.

For the Lightning, Jonathan Drouin made his highly anticipated NHL debut, and Ryan Callahan left the game after the second period with a lower-body injury.

The only NHL team without a win this season: The Carolina Hurricanes.

Nuge, Eberle and Petry out for Oilers; Nurse, Yakimov to make NHL debuts vs. L.A. (Update: Petry’s a healthy scratch)

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Big lineup changes in Los Angeles tonight as the Oilers look for their first win of the season against the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Jeff Petry are all sidelined with injuries, paving the way for two of Edmonton’s top picks from the 2013 draft — Darnell Nurse (seventh overall) and Bogdan Yakimov (83rd) — to make their NHL debuts.

Nurse, the nephew of former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb, has been with the Oilers since training camp but has yet to play a regular-season game. Yakimov was called up from AHL Oklahoma City after Edmonton’s rough-and-tumble shootout loss to the Canucks on Saturday.

It’s unclear exactly what’s ailing Eberle, Petry and Nugent-Hopkins. “Multiple bang ups,” is how head coach Dallas Eakins described their conditions, per the Edmonton Sun; there was some speculation that Nugent-Hopkins injured himself in his first-ever NHL fight against Vancouver’s Dan Hamhuis, but Eakins shot that down.

As you’d expect from such a significant roster shuffle, the ins and outs have altered Edmonton’s lines. Here’s what the Oilers rushed at this morning’s skate:

Taylor Hall-Mark Arcobello-Teddy Purcell

David Perron-Yakimov-Jesse Joensuu

Benoit Pouliot-Leon Draisaitl-Nail Yakupov

Matt Hendricks-Boyd Gordon-Will Acton

Nurse, meanwhile, is likely to be paired with Justin Schultz on defense.

UPDATE: Well, this is interesting — per TSN, Petry, who last year finished second among all Edmonton d-men in TOI per game, is a healthy scratch for tonight’s game.

Related: Gaborik hurt, out vs. Oilers as banged-up Kings lose another