Line combinations for the Oilers look to be the same as last game:
Hall - Draisaitl - Eberle
Pouliot - RNH - Yakupov
Hendricks - Letestu - Purcell
Lander - Miller - Pakarinen
On defence, Mark Fayne and Brandon Davidson have switched spots.
Klefbom - Fayne
Nurse - Sekera
Reinhart - Gryba
Ference - Davidson
On the other side, Marian Hossa is expected to return to the lineup tonight for the Blackhawks after missing the team's last three games.
It was a heart-racing finish as the Oilers battled to come back from a 2-1 deficit.
With what was perceived as a potential goal by Oilers forward Benoit Pouliot, Penguins goaltender Jeff Zatkoff refused to let the puck penetrate his net.
“I didn’t know where it was,” admitted Zatkoff.
“I heard the crowd, they were cheering and I thought maybe it had gone over, but I looked at the ref and he didn’t point…I just tried to scoot forward, I had a feeling that when they went upstairs that you weren’t going to be able to see because of the way I was positioned but I’m pretty confident it didn’t cross over.”
The Penguins may have snatched their sixth win in a row, but it wasn’t without effort Zatkoff says.
“The guys did great, we blocked a lot of shots, even [the Oilers] power play there, we didn’t give them much of anything, we had big blocks, kept them to the outside. I thought all game there we were great,” said the keeper.
“Maybe a little lull there for five minutes when they scored in the second period, but after that I thought it was a solid effort and I thought we deserved to win.”
The Penguins have arrived in Oil Country.
Coming off a win on Wednesday over the Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh forward Eric Fehr says his line is still ironing out any kinks that could be improved.
“It’s definitely getting better every game,” he said.
“I don’t think the timing’s quite there. We’re still trying to get some chemistry with our line, but I felt a lot better in the third period of the last game and slowly getting a better feel for things.”
Returning from an elbow surgery that required a four to six month recovery, Fehr says his teammates have helped remove any doubts he may have had when getting back onto the ice.
“You want to get that first one right away, you want to start producing, you want to be a part of the win and I felt like I’ve done that the last two games,” said Fehr.
“You know its just all about feeling comfortable. The guys have really taken me into the room here and they’ve welcomed me. So it feels better, I feel comfortable, it’s a good group of guys.”
As they gear up for tonight's game, Fehr says the Penguins have to close the Oilers down, preventing them from any space that would allow a speed advantage.
“It’s a fast team and a team that can be very dangerous if you turn the puck over, so I think that’s something that we’re really going to have to focus on today,” he said.
“And it is unfortunate that McDavid’s not playing, you always want to play against those other teams best and see one of the great young stars, but obviously there’s a lot of guys that can fill in and a new coaching staff — it’s a solid team.”
The Oilers are on the ice for morning skate at Rexall Place and these are the lines they're going with at the moment:
V PIT: Hall-Draisaitl-Eberle, Pouliot-RNH-Yak, Hendricks-Letestu-Purcell, Lander-Miller-Pak. Sekera-Nurse, Klefbom-Davidson, Reinhart-Gryba.— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) November 6, 2015
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The Oilers have hit the ice for practice at Rexall Place.
Lines today at practice: Hall-Draisaitl-Eberle, Pouliot-RNH-Yak, Hendricks-Letestu-Purcell, Pakarinen-Lander-Miller.— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) November 5, 2015
Jordan Eberle is skating in a dark blue, top-six sweater today.
The line combinations are as follows:
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- INJURY REPORT: McDavid out indefinitely
- PRACTICE RAW | Taylor Hall
- PRACTICE RAW | Matt Hendricks
- PRACTICE RAW | Leon Draisaitl
- PRACTICE RAW | Todd McLellan
Leon Draisaitl has grown a lot in a year. 365 days ago, Draisaitl was a rookie first-round pick finding his way in the NHL. His first stint in the League lasted just 37 games. Flash forward to the 2015-16 season, and Draisaitl has returned to the NHL on call-up with the Oilers, finding a new level of production in his first three games.
In three games this season, Draisaitl has three goals and four assists for seven points. He had just two goals and seven assists in all 37 games last season.
Nugent-Hopkins says Draisaitl looks different than last season.
“Just the way he’s always moving his feet,” said the Oilers centre. “I think when you first come into the league you can kind of stand around a little bit. I was a culprit of that when I first came in. You kind of watch the play a little too much and try to let it develop. Now, he’s always moving, he’s always getting to the loose pucks and stuff. He’s creating offence for our whole line and obviously he has that touch, he can make things happen, so it’s paying off.”
Hall and Nugent-Hopkins have both benefited from having Draisaitl on their right side. Both extended their point streaks to six games on Tuesday, while Hall has eight points (2-6-8) and Nugent-Hopkins has five points (2-3-5) in the last three games with Draisaitl on their line.
With Connor McDavid going down with a long-term upper body injury on Tuesday night, Draisaitl could be relied upon more heavily in the coming weeks. The natural centre has been playing on the wing, but could be asked to move back to the middle now that the Oilers are down a man. Jordan Eberle (shoulder) has been skating with the team and his return could be sooner rather than later, which would give the Oilers more options in their top six.
Head Coach Todd McLellan was non-committal after Tuesday’s win over Philadelphia on whether or not he’d move Draisaitl to centre saying he has played well on the wing. McLellan said the line combinations would become more clear Wednesday at practice.
It was a hard fought battle from the Philadelphia Flyers but in the end the Oilers pulled away with a 4-2 win.
“I thought we played well. Obviously the first period they outshot us quite a bit but…I thought we had a pretty good period,” said Philadelphia Flyers Ryan White.
“Obviously we want the shots to be better but we’re not about shots we’re about winning. I thought we took another step in the right direction but we didn’t get the two points again.”
After bouncing back from a 1-0 deficit at the end of the first, the Broad Street Bullies ended up with a 2-1 lead at the end of the second frame.
White said that there are still a few wrinkles the Flyers need to iron out in order to see the positive results they’re fighting for.
“I think we need to be better defensively still. We’re still throwing too many pucks away — we’re just not a confident group right now. I think, when this team’s confident, we’re winning battles and making great plays and going from there. Right now we’re winning battles and almost giving them right back to them in their own zone again.
“It’s tough when you’re not winning, you get a little bit fragile, but we have to get it together here and figure out what we need to do better, just calm down and get back to playing hockey.”
2015 first-overall pick Connor McDavid went down late in the second period with an upper body injury after getting tangled up with two Philadelphia Flyers players and crashing into the boards. He did not return to the game for the third period.
Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan had little specifics on the prognosis, other than it is expected to be a long-term injury.
“He’s got an upper body injury that’s going to keep him out long term and he’s being evaluated right now with the doctors,” said McLellan.
McLellan said the team will continue to evaluate and more information will be provided in the morning.
“I can tell you it’s going to be long term and he’ll be out for a while,” said McLellan.
Oilers players reacted to the injury after the 4-2 win.
“It didn’t look too good,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. “I just feel bad for him. He’s been playing so great, putting the work in and it’s just an unlucky play like that. You just kind of feel bad for him.”
“That’s tough. The kid is playing real well for us,” said Matt Hendricks. “I’m not sure what the exact details are of the injury. Glad he was able to get off on his own two feet. He’s in a little bit of pain. It’s hard for teammates to see a guy go down like that, but at the same time we had other guys step up and kind of relish the opportunity.”
McLellan said he saw McDavid after the game and told him to “keep his head up.”
“He’s disappointed he got injured,” said McLellan. “It’s his rookie year. Things are going really well and he wants to be part of the group, which he still will be but he’s just not going to wear the uniform for a little while. I have a 19-year-old and I can’t imagine how he’d feel if he were in the NHL, his first year, and he got hurt.”
McDavid is second on the team in scoring with 12 points in 13 games this season.