GOOD KNIGHT

Oil­ers golden against Ve­gas

Edmonton Journal - - FRONT PAGE - TERRY JONES tjones@post­media.com Twit­ter: @byter­ryjones

The idea was two-fold.

a) De­spite your ex­pan­sion team po­si­tion in the NHL standings, prove you could at least beat the ex­pan­sion team.

b) Re­turn to be­ing the team that was tough to play against in your own build­ing and give the lo­cal cus­tomers some­thing to cheer about.

The sput­ter­ing Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers looked like the 103-point team they were last year and the sur­pris­ing Ve­gas Golden Knights looked like the ex­pan­sion team they were ex­pected to be.

Like so many games against first-year ex­pan­sion teams, it was a game to pad your statis­tics, get out of the dog­house and make a game fun again in a notso-much-fun start to a sea­son.

The Oil­ers ran up the score to 8-2, their high­est num­ber of goals this sea­son and largest mar­gin of vic­tory.

The Oil­ers’ op­po­nents had scored first in 10 of Ed­mon­ton’s first 17 games of the sea­son. When the Oil­ers went to the dress­ing room with a 3-0 lead, it was an oc­ca­sion to cel­e­brate con­sid­er­ing the way this sea­son has started. And Con­nor McDavid didn’t have a point on any of those three goals.

McDavid fin­ished the game with two goals and an as­sist to give him nine goals and 22 points for the sea­son and move him into the top-10 in league scor­ing.

Ryan Nu­gent-Hop­kins scored his sev­enth and eighth goals of the sea­son, while snipes by Os­car Klef­bom, Pat Ma­roon, Matt Ben­ning and Mark Letestu got them at least one paw out of the dog­house.

Yo­hann Au­vitu reg­is­tered his first point as an Oiler, with Ma­roon, Klef­bom, Letestu, Ju­jhar Khaira (2), Ryan Strome, Mi­lan Lu­cic, Kris Rus­sell, Zack Kas­sian and Leon Drai­saitl (2) adding as­sists.

The only stats that didn’t get par­tic­u­larly padded be­longed to goal­tender Cam Tal­bot, who re­turned home to Rogers Place where he has a .894 save per­cent­age this sea­son, a com­plete con­trast to his ex­cel­lent .944 save per­cent­age on road.

Giv­ing up two goals on 24 shots didn’t change his much.

There’s been noth­ing se­ri­ously wrong with the Oil­ers on the road, where they’ve gone 3-3-2 over­all and 2-1-1 on their most re­cent road trip.

The prob­lem has been at home, where Ed­mon­ton won two of its pre­vi­ous eight games af­ter that im­pres­sive but ob­vi­ously not tone-set­ting sea­son open­ing 3-0 win over the Cal­gary Flames.

Gen­er­ally, the idea is to play no worse than .500 on the road and bet­ter than .667 at home. The Oil­ers went into the game play­ing .333 at home.

Last year, Ed­mon­ton achieved the 103-point sea­son go­ing 22-14-5 on the road and 25-124 at home. By Nov. 5, with that ran­cid 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, the Oil­ers had al­ready recorded their sixth home de­feat of the sea­son.

That’s where the home fans left the team. Rogers Place has went from the mad­house scene the team and the town cre­ated last sea­son and es­pe­cially in the play­offs, to es­sen­tially an arena full of fans giv­ing the Oil­ers the silent treat­ment for most of the third pe­riod.

Only one game be­fore reek­ing against the Red Wings, it looked like the Oil­ers had de­cided to get back to be­ing that team that com­bined skill with win­ning the lit­tle bat­tles and races and us­ing their size, as ex­em­pli­fied by Adam Lars­son with his 13 hits in that 6-3 win over New Jer­sey.

The shock of the stink-the­joint-out, get-away-day game against Detroit was there was zero fol­low-through trac­tion from the ex­am­ple they pro­vided them­selves against the Devils. So, what to make of this one? There will be those who will point out the Oil­ers have pro­duced points in the standings in four of their last five games. But it’s go­ing to be a lot closer to Christ­mas be­fore any­body de­clares the 2017-18 Oil­ers to be track­ing like they were sup­posed to be track­ing.

On the road trip, the Oil­ers de­cided to be a check­ing team. Much of what hap­pened in the first pe­riod Tues­day may have re­sulted from start­ing there. But the rest was pretty much river hockey.

While the Oil­ers reg­is­tered their first back-to-back wins of the sea­son on the last road trip, they have yet to win two in a row at home. And you all re­mem­ber what hap­pened the last time they gave Ed­mon­ton fans a bunch of goals and a win at home. They to­tally soiled the sheets two nights later against Detroit.

So, make ab­so­lutely noth­ing of this. Noth­ing at all. But be back Thurs­day to see if they learned any­thing from their last onesided win in this rink.

ED KAISER

The Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers had many oc­ca­sions to cel­e­brate Tues­day night, as they scored eight times on the vis­it­ing Ve­gas Golden Nights to record a big 8-2 vic­tory at Rogers Place to kick off a home­s­tand that con­tin­ues Thurs­day against the St. Louis Blues.

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