Oilers-Blue Jackets Preview
The individual success has been there all along for Connor McDavid. It now might be translating into victories.
Edmonton heads to Columbus on Friday night seeking its first four-game winning streak with the rookie sensation on the ice, and he already had a big impact in a win over the Blue Jackets just over a month ago.
The Oilers (25-34-7) won six straight to start December while McDavid was on injured reserve with a broken clavicle that cost him 37 games, but they haven't won more than three in a row with him.
Thursday's 4-0 victory at Philadelphia has them in position to change that. McDavid had an assist, and while Edmonton has averaged 3.00 goals on the streak after totaling three in its previous three games, the defensive effort has been more impressive.
The Oilers have given up two goals and held the New York Islanders, Buffalo and the Flyers scoreless on 12 power-play chances.
Granted, their own power play hasn't scored a goal in weeks, going 0 for 17 in its last eight games, but it's been an enjoyable time for the team as it makes its third stop on a four-game trip. The Oilers had dropped their previous five road games with a goal scored in each, and they'd managed 10 goals on a 0-5-1 overall span.
"We've learned by trial and error that the cute, fancy homestand we tried to play wasn't going to do it," coach Todd McLellan said. "We're a proud group so we took it upon ourselves to be a scrappy, relentless, tenacious team."
McDavid has two goals and two assists on the winning streak, and his 1.10 points per game ranks second behind Chicago's Patrick Kane. When he's held without a point, Edmonton is 1-6-2. Since returning from the injury with a goal and two assists in a 5-1 home win over Columbus on Feb. 2, he has 20 points in 16 contests.
"He gets faster when he gets the puck," Taylor Hall said of McDavid. "That's a quality that not many guys in the world have. It's fun to watch."
That win snapped the Oilers' three-game skid versus the Blue Jackets, though Edmonton has averaged 4.15 goals over an 8-2-3 span in the series. Jordan Eberle has played in 12 of those and managed six goals and nine assists.
The Blue Jackets (26-30-8) have had fairly straightforward results lately, winning each time they've scored more than once over a 5-2-2 span. That stretch includes a 2-1 loss at the New York Rangers on Monday before a three-day break. Cam Atkinson reached 20 goals for a third straight season but chances were otherwise limited.
"There wasn't much room for either team as far as scoring chances. We talked about not opening up and just staying with it," coach John Tortorella told the team's official website. "I thought we did a lot of good things. We defended well, but we have to find a way to win."
In goal, Joonas Korpisalo is 2-1-0 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .925 save percentage since allowing four goals in consecutive games. He allowed all five in Edmonton last month.
Cam Talbot beat him and has started the last nine games for the Oilers. After shutting out the Flyers, he's posted a 1.19 GAA and .966 save percentage over a 3-1-1 span.
"I felt pretty comfortable again tonight, the PK did a heck of a job in front of me, and it was a big two points for this group," Talbot told the team's official website.