“We would never overlook a team,” Islanders Coach Jack Capuano said, who’s team had come into the game 7-1-1 in their previous nine. “We know this team has played extremely well. I know their record is what it is but if you look at the games and some of the teams that they’ve beaten, their record should be a lot better than what it is. People that talk about that, I have no interest in going down that road.”
The Oilers struck first at 16:59 of the opening period. Rob Klinkhammer, playing in his first game with the Oilers since being acquired in a trade on Friday, recorded his first point with his new club on the goal. Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak went behind the net to play the puck but Klinkhammer came crashing in and passed it out in front for Hendricks. Hendricks put the puck in a pretty much wide-open net for the 1-0 lead.
“It was awesome,” Klinkhammer said. “Anytime you come in and get a win like that and chip in on the point sheet, that’s about all you can ask for. It’s nice. The Islanders are a great team so I thought we responded really well tonight.”
Klinkhammer joins a recent group of new Oilers to contribute early in their blue and orange tenures. Derek Roy had an assist in his first game with the team on December 30. Matt Fraser scored a goal in his second game on December 31.
The Oilers would take their one-goal lead into the second period, despite being outshot 10-5 through 20 minutes.
The Islanders had come into the night having not allowed a first-period goal in six games. They had also led after one in five straight. Both streaks were snapped by the Oilers.
The Islanders jumped back within one, courtesy of a power play goal at 3:41 of the second. Edmonton native Johnny Boychuk got the goal, assisted by Nick Leddy and John Tavares.
The Oilers had several point shots blocked and maintained good puck possession in the second period. A huge scoring opportunity came late in the frame when Roy and Teddy Purcell had a 2-on-0 rush. The pair of forwards displayed their passing skills, but failed to connect with a shot.
“We just tried to go back and forth a couple of times,” Roy said. “We haven’t practiced that so we’ll work on that tomorrow. It just bounced over my stick, I had the empty net and that’s a tough bounce but we got the win and we got that one back for us.”
Roy got his redemption at 2:33 of the third period. The Islanders coughed the puck up in front of their net and Roy shot it past Halak for the 3-1 lead.
“I thought we played hard all night tonight,” Roy said. “We got a bounce there on that goal and that’s just the way it goes from working hard, getting in on the forecheck and battling.”
Hendricks scored his second of the night, an empty-net goal, at 17:30 of the third period to seal the game. But the Oilers weren’t done scoring just yet.
The Oilers have been on the losing end of many close games this season, but tonight they were able to close things out.
“We’ve talked a lot about our team game,” Hendricks said. “It’s been improving night in and night out, the practices have been improving, there’s more energy in the room right now and you could just sense that we were knocking on the doorstep in the last few games. We had a couple of overtime losses, a couple of shootout losses and things like that. But it was a big team effort tonight and it’s a good feeling going into tomorrow.”
Brock Nelson scored a power play goal at 19:29 to make it 5-2.
The win makes it five straight victories for the Oilers against the Islanders at Rexall Place. Edmonton has earned points in each of their last four games.
“We can do better and we know that. But at the end of the day we got two points and I thought we did a pretty good job at closing the game out,” Roy said. “I think in the future, we’ve got to play more in their zone and really smother them. They were going at us really good. It’s a learning process and I thought we did a good job bearing down, blocking shots and we’re going to need that.”