Oilers hope to find scoring touch against hot Washington Capitals squad

You have to go back almost a week to find who scored the last goal for the Edmonton Oilers.

It was defenceman Ethan Bear.

After the team’s scorching start, the Oilers have gone ice cold. 

Over seven periods, 152 minutes, without finding the net. Shut out by two struggling teams, the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild. 

The red-hot nine-goal start by forward James Neal and 33 points for the dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl is fading from memory.

The offence has all but dried up.  

Zero points

Forwards Zack Kassian, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Thomas Jurco have combined for 14 points. 

Five other forwards — Jujhar Khaira, Riley Sheahan, Josh Archibald, Patrick Russell, and Markus Granland — have nary a goal between them.

Zero points, and a combined plus/minus of -18.

It’s a glaring stat, Oilers head coach Dave Tippett is aware of, but not dwelling on. 

Tippett says he talked to the players about where they’re at 10 games into the season.

“We scored in bunches early on and then the last couple of games haven’t been as good,” Tippett said.

“Coming home, getting a day of rest yesterday I’m interested to see how our team responds, on our first real bit of adversity. I want to see how we respond to that, and I think our players will respond the right way.”   

One of the players Tippett is looking to is centre Sam Gagner. 

‘Getting shots to the net’

The veteran was called up earlier this week from the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors where he has scored two goals and two assists in four games this season. 

“I have an opportunity to help the team win some games, and that’s my mindset,” said Gagner after a quick skate Thursday morning. 

“I think there’s different areas I can help out, but obviously the main one is creating some offence, getting shots to the net, just getting pucks to the offensive zone and then making plays when I’m there.” 

Other players say the dried-up offence isn’t the focus; the potent Washington Capitals are. 

Lethal weapons

The Caps are one of the hottest teams in the league right now, having won four in a row and with just one loss while playing on the road. 

“They’ve got a lot of weapons, a lot of different players who can make plays and be very dangerous,” said Leon Draisaitl who has six goals and 10 assists, fourth best in the league.

Ahead of him at the top of the leader board, is Capitals defenceman John Carlson with five goals and 15 assists.

“It’s a little surprising that he’s leading the league,” Draisaitl said. “But it’s a good test for us to keep them on the outside and take things away from them.”

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