By DENIS P. GORMAN, Associated Press
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The Edmonton Oilers are starting to play better after a rough start to the season.
Leon Draisaitl scored with 16.3 seconds left in overtime to lift the Oilers to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
“You have to create some kind of momentum any way you can. Sometimes it takes wins like these to get you to start feeling confident and get rolling,” Oilers forward Milan Lucic said. “Hopefully we can keep building off of an effort like this.”
The Oilers (6-8-1) have now won consecutive games for the first time all season. Edmonton had defeated the New York Islanders, 2-1, Tuesday night when Draisaitl set up Connor McDavid for the game-winner 38 seconds into overtime.
Cam Talbot made 32 saves and Anton Slepyshev and Lucic also scored for Edmonton.
Whereas the Oilers spoke in hopeful terms about building positive traction, the Devils are in the midst of their first sustained losing streak of the season. New Jersey has lost four straight to fall to 9-4-2.
Cory Schneider made 29 saves for New Jersey. Brian Boyle and Drew Stafford scored for the Devils.
“We had some chances,” Schneider said. “Tough to get one, not two.”
Following the franchise’s first playoff appearance since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in the 2005-06 season, Edmonton was a trendy pick to win the Western Conference during the preseason.
However, the Oilers opened the season with a 3-6-1 record in October, and were 2-2-0 in November. Entering the game, Edmonton’s 11 points were second worst in the Western Conference, ahead of only Arizona.
Edmonton never led in until Draisaitl’s game-winner.
Boyle opened the scoring as he jammed a loose puck through Talbot, his one-time teammate with the New York Rangers, to give the Devils a 1-0 lead just 5:33 in.
The goal was Boyle’s first of the season. Boyle had been diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid/Myelogenous Leukemia during training camp, and he had missed all of the preseason and New Jersey’s first 10 games of the regular season while receiving treatment.
“Usually I can separate it but that wasn’t the case. It was a wave of different things. My family, my wife has been through the ringer. She’s had to deal with a lot more than I’d say I have gone through,” Boyle said of his reaction to his goal. “I try to separate it but it’s a little bit bigger tonight than probably ever.”
New Jersey had an opportunity to tack onto its lead before the end of the period, as the Devils were granted a power play due to Oscar Klefbom tripped first overall pick Nico Hischier at 17:46. But Stefan Noesen’s shot from the top of the crease sailed wide, and the Devils went into intermission with the 1-0 advantage.
“We could have had three or four (goals),” Schneider said. “We had a few dribble wide or miss an open net.”
Noesen’s missed shot came back to haunt New Jersey when Slepyshev tied the game at 6:50 of the second with his first of the season.
Still, it was the Devils who went into the second intermission with a 2-1 lead, on Stafford’s fifth of the year at 18:25. Stafford used his body to shield the puck away from Mark Letestu, then tucked the puck past Talbot before being hit by Darnell Nurse.
Edmonton drew even on Lucic’s third goal of the season 3:21 into the third, a drive from the left side which rolled through Schneider’s legs.
NOTES: The game was the culmination of the regular season series between New Jersey and Edmonton. … New Jersey scratched defensemen Dalton Prout and Ben Lovejoy, and center Pavel Zacha. … Right winger Kyle Palmieri returned to the Devils’ lineup after missing six games with a lower body injury. … Prior to the game, New Jersey announced left winger Marcus Johansson was put on injured reserve with a concussion. … Defenseman Yohaan Auvitu, and left wingers Jujhar Khaira and Drake Caggiula were Edmonton’s scratches. … The Devils announced a sellout crowd of 16,514 on WWE Night at the Prudential Center. The arena will host the professional wrestling company’s Smackdown Live! event on Dec. 19, so there were tie-ins throughout the game promoting the pseudo-sport.
Oilers: Continue their four-game East Coast road trip Saturday in New York.
Devils: Finish three-game homestead Saturday against Florida.
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