Oilers top Isles as Matt Hendricks scores pair of goals
Things are different around the Edmonton Oilers lately. And, in a very good way.
Matt Hendricks scored a pair of goals and the Edmonton Oilers topped the New York Islanders 5-2 on Sunday night.
Jordan Eberle, Derek Roy and Matt Fraser also scored for the Oilers, who won for just the third time in their last 25 games. Edmonton, however, improved to 2-0-2 in its last four games since interim head coach Todd Nelson took sole possession of the Oilers’ bench, with general manager Craig MacTavish moving back upstairs.
"We’ve talked about our team game," Hendricks said. "It’s been improving night in and night out. The practices have been improving. There is more energy in the room right now and you can just sense that we have been knocking on the doorstep the last few games."
Eberle agreed that the Oilers seem to be getting out from the season-long funk that had them sitting in last place in the NHL.
"We’re playing a more aggressive style," he said. "We have a bit better of an identity as to the way we want to play right now. It’s obviously turning into some wins. When you win, it gives you more confidence in playing that way."
Johnny Boychuk and Brock Nelson scored for the Islanders, whose three-game winning streak ended. New York is 7-2-1 in its last 10.
"I thought we had some guys that were downright pretty bad," coach Jack Capuano said. "We gave them three gifts and an empty-netter. We were physical, we did a lot of good things, but at the end of the day it’s about execution and there are some guys that need to look in the mirror."
Edmonton started the scoring with three minutes left in the first period as newly acquired Rob Klinkhammer stole the puck from Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak behind the net and got it to Hendricks, who looped in front and put it into the wide-open net. It was the first time in seven games that the Islanders allowed a first-period goal.
New York had 10 shots on Ben Scrivens in the opening frame, compared to five for Edmonton against Halak.
The Oilers made it 2-0 just 8 seconds into the second period when Taylor Hall made a nice cross-ice pass to Eberle, who scored his eighth of the season stick-side on Halak.
The Islanders got one of those goals back on the power play four minutes into the middle frame as Boychuk’s blast from the point cleanly beat Scrivens.
"We were slow coming out and we let them do some things they wanted to do," Islanders captain John Tavares said.
The shots were even at 19 apiece after 40 minutes.
Edmonton took a 3-1 lead 2 1/2 minutes into the third period as the Islanders’ Lubomir Visnovsky lost control of a puck and sent it in front of his own net where Roy was able to score his first goal since being acquired from Nashville.
Scrivens kept the Islanders at bay with a huge glove save in tight on Tavares midway through the third.
The Oilers put the game away with 2 1/2 minutes left as Hendricks scored his second of the game and fifth of the season from his knees into an empty net.
Just 17 seconds later, Edmonton made it 5-1 as Fraser’s shot from the top of the circle dribbled into the net after Halak got a piece of it with his glove.
"It’s a relief," Todd Nelson said. "It was nice to get the goal support tonight and Ben was very good in net and made some very timely saves. There were a lot of really solid efforts from a number of individuals."
The Islanders were able to make the score look a little better with a power-play goal by Nelson with 30 seconds remaining — his 15th.
The Oilers play the second game of a four-game homestand on Tuesday against Detroit. The Islanders play the fourth game of a seven-game road trip Tuesday in Vancouver.
NOTES: It was the first of two games this season between the Oilers and Islanders. New York has now lost five straight in Edmonton, dating to March 13, 2003. … Klinkhammer was acquired along with a 2015 first-round pick from Pittsburgh for David Perron. … Edmonton returned 2014 third overall draft pick Leon Draisaitl to juniors on Sunday. Draisaitl, 19, tallied two goals and seven assists in 37 games as a center for the Oilers. Anton Lander was called up from the AHL to take his place.