Oilers, Devils look for consistency
NEWARK, N.J. -- Two teams looking to re-establish their footing meet Thursday night when the Edmonton Oilers visit the Prudential Center to face the New Jersey Devils.
The Oilers (5-8-1) are coming off a 2-1 overtime victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday, their second win in three games, yet they have not won consecutive games all season.
Meanwhile, the Devils (9-4-1) face their first extended adversity, entering with a three-game losing streak after a 3-1 home-ice loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.
"We have to stop this slide and get out of this and stop it before it gets too deep," said Devils goalie Cory Schneider, who made 37 saves in the loss Tuesday. "It's three in a row, and we haven't quite played well enough to win. We've got to find a way to stop this slide right now."
After winning nine of their first 11 games and storming to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings, the Devils dropped a 6-3 decision to the Oilers in Edmonton on Nov. 3. A 5-4 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames followed before the defeat against the Blues.
In that first meeting less than a week ago, the Oilers jumped to leads of 2-0 and 5-2 before finishing off the Devils.
Connor McDavid had three assists and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Drake Caggiula both had a goal and an assist for the Oilers. Taylor Hall, who leads the Devils with 17 points, scored against his former team.
Despite beating the Devils last week, the Oilers have a healthy dose of respect for their Thursday opponent.
"They're a fast team, a very-structured fast team, so we have to counter that and play our game, fast hockey, or else they can burn you," said Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson, a former Devils first-round pick. "I thought we did that effectively last week against the Devils and (Tuesday) against the Islanders."
The Devils likely will receive a boost with the expected return of veteran right winger Kyle Palmieri, who missed the past six games with a lower-body injury.
Palmieri practiced with the team on Wednesday, skating on the top line with Hall and rookie Nico Hischier. If Palmieri does play, it appears Pavel Zacha would be a healthy scratch.
"He looks good and practiced full today," Devils coach John Hynes said of Palmieri, who has three goals and seven points in seven games this season. "Kyle is a huge part of our team. He really is an identity player for us the way he plays the game."
The Oilers come to Newark amid a four-game road trip, still searching to find their collective game on both sides of the puck.
Though the Oilers average 37 shots on goal per game, they shockingly are the lowest-scoring team in the NHL. They have scored more than two goals only four times so far this season.
McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins scored 12 of the team's 32 goals through the first 14 games.
Edmonton has been equally bad on special teams. The penalty kill is ranked last in the NHL and the power play is not much better.
"The start we've had put us in a hole, and we're going to have to string together some games at some point, the sooner the better," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said Wednesday. "We took a step forward (Tuesday), and now we're going to play an opponent we just (beat) a week ago and they're going to want to make amends. So we have to be ready."
The Oilers could be without Caggiula, who did not practice Wednesday, though Anton Slepyshev did take part in practice after being a late scratch against the Islanders.
Updated November 9, 2017