The Edmonton Oilers started the 2013-14 season off by winning only one of their first eight games, but after a pair of big wins might now have something to build on as they try and work their way back up in the standings. A 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night showed that the Oilers can survive without star forward Taylor Hall, and that when goaltender Devan Dubnyk gets support he can indeed be a reliable netminder. The Oilers came out extra motivated on Tuesday, and head coach Dallas Eakins used comments from Canadiens forward Lars Eller to help motivate his team. Eller, Montreal’s leading scorer coming into the game, was held to only one shot on goal after referring to the Oilers as a “junior team” earlier in the week.
Not only were the Oilers without Hall, but they were missing veteran Ryan Smyth as well. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continued a great start to the season with a par of assists on Tuesday, giving him five points in two games. The Oilers also got two assists from Jordan Eberle, who now leads the team with 10 points. Dubnyk continues to have his work cut out for him, and while it was encouraging to see goals from Ryan Jones and Jeff Petry help preserve the win, there’s still work to be done with this talented offense. The Oilers have now gone five games without a power play goal, and with only five man-advantage tallies in 36 tries they rank near the bottom of the league. Edmonton also continues to struggle on the penalty kill, where they have given up at least one goal in all but one of their games so far. With issues on defense and questions remaining about Dubnyk’s ability, the Oilers are going to have to outscore opponents this season to get wins. Converting on the power play will help that, but with Hall out for up to a month the Oilers need Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle to continue leading the way.