PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Edmonton Oilers have traded in style for substance - and it’s paying dividends.
Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov, Patrick Maroon and Lauri Korpikoski all scored, and Cam Talbot made 35 saves to lead Edmonton to its third straight victory, 4-0 over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.
“We’ve been playing a lot grittier as a team,” Talbot said. “It’s the kind of game we’ve been looking to play all year and we’re starting to do it more consistently now.”
Talbot, in his ninth straight start, was at his best in the first two periods on his way to his second shutout of the season and 10th of his career.
“I felt pretty comfortable again tonight,” he said.
Edmonton’s recent turnaround followed a six-game homestand from Feb. 11-23 in which they lost five.
“We’ve learned by trial and error that the cute, fancy homestand we tried to play wasn’t going to do it,” Oilers coach Tod McLellan said. “We’re a proud group so we took it upon ourselves to be a scrappy, relentless, tenacious team.”
Top rookie Connor McDavid had an assist in his first game versus the Flyers since being injured against them in Philadelphia’s 4-2 win at Edmonton on Nov. 3. The 2015 No. 1 overall pick missed 37 games after breaking his clavicle when he was ridden hard into the boards by Philadelphia’s Brandon Manning, who watched from the press box as a healthy scratch.
The loss to the Western Conference’s worst team was a blow to Philadelphia’s playoff chances. The Flyers entered play three games behind Pittsburgh, which beat the New York Rangers on Thursday night, for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot.
They had won their previous three games on a six-game homestand that continues Saturday against Columbus. Philadelphia was shut out for the fourth time this season, including three at home.
“We couldn’t buy a break around the net and they capitalized on the opportunities that they had,” Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s the difference in the game.”
McDavid showed off his speed when he blew past defenseman Evgeny Medvedev to set up Edmonton’s opening goal with 8:40 left in the first period. McDavid got in alone on goal and Yakupov poked home the rebound after Michal Neuvirth made the initial stop on McDavid.
“He gets faster when he gets the puck,” Hall said of McDavid. “That’s a quality that not many guys in the world have. It’s fun to watch.”
McDavid, the NHL’s rookie of the month for February, has 20 points in his last 16 games.
Philadelphia dominated the second period everywhere but the scoreboard.
Edmonton took advantage of a miscommunication between Flyers defensemen Shayne Gostisbehere and Andrew MacDonald at Philadelphia’s blue line. Hall pounced on the puck and got ahead of Gostisbehere, eventually beating Neuvirth on a breakaway to give Edmonton a two-goal lead with 5:38 left in the period. It was Hall’s team-leading 21st goal.
“A little bit of a mixup on their part and as an offensive player you love seeing the puck squeak out,” Hall said. “If I can get breakways like that every game, it’s a fun game to play.”
And the Oilers went up 3-0 a little under 2 minutes later when Maroon notched his fifth goal of the season in his debut with Edmonton after being traded earlier this week from Anaheim for Martin Gernat and a fourth-round draft pick.
The Flyers had a plethora of chances in the period but couldn’t convert despite outshooting Edmonton 16-9. Philadelphia’s best opportunity may have been with 9 ½ minutes left in the period when Sean Couturier fired at a wide-open net, only to have the puck deflect off Korpikoski before Talbot pounced on the puck just as it was about to cross the blue line.
Four minutes earlier, Mark Streit’s slap shot on a power play caromed off the post. Medvedev hit the post later in the period, following Ghostisbere’s first-period blast from the point that also ricocheted off the post.
Ghostisbehere’s turnover led to Edmonton’s fourth goal, Korpikoski’s short-handed tally with 8:01 left in the third period.
Neuvirth made his fifth straight start in front of healthy No. 1 goalie Steve Mason and had 27 saves.
Notes: Willie O’Ree, the NHL’s first black player, was in attendance. … Edmonton improved to 15-3-2 when leading after the first period. … The Oilers won for the first time in Philadelphia since Nov. 2, 2008. … Edmonton returns to the ice Friday night at Columbus for the third of a four-game road trip. … Flyers RW Jakub Voracek (lower body) missed his second straight game. He is expected to be out another 1 ½ weeks.
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