EDMONTON - What's the NHL record for the highest shooting percentage to start a game on consecutive nights?
Not even Peter Brand and Billy Beane would have had stat packs that comprehensive, but it's safe to assume the Oilers have it wrapped up. With Justin Schultz, Taylor Hall and Ryan Jones doing the damage, the Oilers scored on each of their first two shots and again on their sixth.
Nail Yakupov added some salt to the wound with a third-period goal to seal the deal.
Schultz recorded three points, Hall, Jones and Yakupov a pair each, and Devan Dubnyk made 33 saves in securing the Oilers' fourth-straight victory, 4-1 over the Calgary Flames Monday night at Rexall Place.
"We had an optimal start again," said Head Coach Ralph Krueger. "When you use opportunities like we did, it puts you in the driver's seat."
"That wasn't the best hockey that we've played in this stretch, but we did what we needed to do to win," added Jones. "For once, we were the opportunistic team. It always seems like we're playing against a team that scores every time they have a chance. We know we have to be better, but Dubey stood on his head and anytime he does that, it gives us a chance to win.
"Two points -- we're not going to be mad about that, for sure."
With the win, the Oilers improve to 15-13-7 on the season and sit in ninth in the Western Conference with 37 points, one back of the eighth and final playoff spot currently occupied by the St. Louis Blues.
The Oilers grabbed a 1-0 lead at 3:52. Spotting Schultz alone in the slot, Hall sifted a diagonal pass to the rookie who had all day to saunter in and pick his shot. With defenceman Mark Giordano backing in, Schultz made no mistake, launching a wrist shot past Kiprusoff on the blocker side.
6:03 later, Schultz returned the favour and picked up an assist as Hall collected his 12th of the season and 35th point. With time and space to stare down the goaltender once again, Schultz passed off to Hall at the doorstep. No. 4 patiently cut across the crease and backhanded a shot past Kiprusoff to make it a 2-0 game.
"I haven't done that move too much in my career," said Hall. "I'm starting to get the feel of breakaways a little bit. It was a great pass by Schultzy -- and it was a great keep by him at the line. It gave me a wide-open play with a prime scoring chance like that in the first few minutes it's great to bury them.
"(Schultz) is a great player. He hasn't disappointed."
"That line has been unbelievable since they've been back together," Jones added about the dominant Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins line. "They're arguably the best line in the NHL right now. With those three guys and Dubey, it's going to give us an opportunity to win a lot of hockey games."
The Oilers weren't done.
With 3:32 to play in the period, Jones burst down on his backhand and lofted a prayer from a sharp angle. The cheeky shot somehow squeaked through Kiprusoff and dribbled across the goal line for a 3-0 Oilers lead.
"They all go up (on the scoreboard)," laughed Jones. "Anytime I can get a puck on net, it's a good opportunity. I caught him off guard. It's nice to chip in in wins. There are so many ways you can do it, but when you can get the points, it always feels good."
It was then that Kiprusoff's night came to a premature end as Joey MacDonald entered in relief. The 33-year-old recorded 14 saves played, but the damage had already been done.
The Flames pushed back in the second period, but Dubnyk was solid. With 3:15 to play, Brian McGratton slipped behind Jeff Petry and had an angle to the net, but Dubnyk robbed him with his left pad on the visitors' 16th shot.
Shots on goal were 17-17 after 40 minutes.
"We can't be pleased with how the game went," said Krueger. "The opportunities we allowed Calgary -- they never gave up on this game. It's a credit to them because they came hard at us, forechecked aggressively and they played the body right through."
Calgary was awarded the game's lone power-play when Magnus Paajarvi was sent off for tripping at 7:10 of the third, but it didn't generate anything but consequence.
Snapping a 17-game goal-scoring drought, after receiving a pass from Jones in the slot, Yakupov scored an insurance marker at 10:30 as MacDonald couldn't quite handle the Russian's quick snap shot.
"It's good for me," said Yakupov. "I feel way better. I like playing with my captain (Shawn Horcoff)."
McGratton snapped Dubnyk's shutout bid with a goal late in the third.
"We knew they weren't going to give up," said Hall. "We played really well in the last two periods against Vancouver. I think it carried over and hopefully tonight it does the same for the next game."
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick
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