PREVIEW: Edmonton Oilers aim to complete another sweep of Senators

By Field Level Media
Feb 8, 2021; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) skates with the puck in front of Ottawa Senators defenseman Mike Reilly (5) in the third period at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The Edmonton Oilers look to continue their recent dominance of the Senators when the teams meet again in Ottawa on Tuesday.

Edmonton is a perfect 3-0-0 against the Senators this season, including a 3-1 victory on Monday night. All three of those victories are part of the Oilers’ 4-1-0 record over their past five games.

After rolling to a pair of comfortable wins in the first two encounters with Ottawa last week in Edmonton, the Oilers had a much tougher time on Monday. The score was 1-1 until Tyler Ennis produced the game-winning goal 6:09 into the third period, and the result wasn’t settled until Josh Archibald added an empty-netter in the final 70 seconds.

While the early portion of the Oilers’ season has seen a lot of goals both scored and conceded, coach Dave Tippett was pleased to see his team succeed in a tighter, lower-scoring contest.

“We want to be a hard-working team, and we’ve done it in spurts,” Tippett said. “It feels like when we’re chasing the game … you get out of sync a little bit and you’re taking risks to get back in the game. Tonight we were solid all the way through.”

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Though the Senators are only 1-2-0 in their past three games, the club is playing at a much higher level in the aftermath of a nine-game (0-8-1) winless drought.

“We’re starting to limit some chances and we’re realizing the game we have to play,” coach D.J. Smith said prior to Monday’s game. “We’re moving pucks better, we’re breaking out as a group of five, just the energy and the confidence level on the bench (is) better.”

Scoring continues to be an issue for the Senators despite their improved play. Monday marked the sixth time in 10 games that Ottawa was held to a single goal.

Even the Senators’ only goal on Monday wasn’t technically their own score, as Evgenii Dadonov was given official credit after Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson accidentally tipped the puck into his own net.

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Dadonov surely will welcome any bit of luck as he looks to escape his early-season struggles. Signed to a three-year, $15 million free agent deal in October, Dadonov has only four points (two goals, two assists) in his first 13 games for the Senators.

Goalie Matt Murray started for the Senators on Monday, so Marcus Hogberg is Ottawa’s probable starter in the second end of the back-to-back set. Hogberg has an 0-4-0 record, a 4.54 goals against average and an .844 save percentage in five games this season.

After missing Edmonton’s first 13 games due to injury, Mike Smith returned Monday and was in fine form, stopping 27 of 28 shots. The Oilers are unlikely to push Smith so soon after his long absence, so Mikko Koskinen likely will return as the starting goalie Tuesday.

Oilers forwards Connor McDavid (six goals, 16 assists) and Leon Draisaitl (eight goals, 12 assists) are each on 10-game points streaks. The two stars have combined for three goals and 14 assists in Edmonton’s three games against Ottawa this season.

Edmonton winger Zack Kassian (upper-body injury) is questionable for Tuesday after playing only 33 seconds Monday. Kassian didn’t return after a fight with Ottawa’s Erik Gudbranson less than two minutes into the game.

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–Field Level Media