EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers' hot start has them hitting impressive team and individual marks.
Leon Draisaitl's two goals and an assist in a 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Wednesday pushed him into the NHL scoring lead a point up on teammate Connor McDavid.
Kailer Yamamoto, Devin Shore and Jesse Puljujarvi with an empty-net goal also scored for the Oilers (8-1-0) who have won three games in a row.
Edmonton starter Mikko Koskinen stopped 31 of 33 shots for the win. The Oilers have won eight of their first nine games of a season only once before in 1985-86.
“I think there are a lot of things we can do better, but you don’t go 8-1 if you just play terrible and get lucky,” Draisaitl said.
His seven points in his last two games makes him the first player to reach 20 points in his first nine games of a season since Mario Lemieux in 2002-03.
“This start is great for me, for us as a group," Draisaitl said. "But we’re just looking to help the team win, do the little things right, continue to get better. And win.”
Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who has yet to score this season but had two assists Wednesday for a league-leading 13, agreed that the vibe is positive in Edmonton.
“It’s great right now,” he said. “We had a really good start at 5-0 and kept the train rolling a little bit. There are still areas of our game where we can improve but we are going to work on them.
"But the main thing always is getting those two points. You bank them and they come in huge at the end of the season.”
Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen replied for Nashville (5-5-0), which ended a four-game winning streak. Conor Ingram stopped 24 of 29 shots in the Predators' net.
“I thought we fought hard, I thought we had a lot of good looks, I thought we had a lot of good shots and good tips by our forwards,” Predators defenceman Roman Josi said. “We obviously didn’t score.
“They’re just such a dangerous team and they’re so dynamic off the rush and they capitalized on a couple of mistakes we made.”
Edmonton opened scoring seven minutes into the contest with its lethal power play. Draisaitl wired a one-timer top corner past Ingram.
Edmonton's power play heading into the game was operating at 46.2 per cent.
The lead was short-lived. The Predators came roaring back just 11 seconds later with Duchene electing to shoot on a two-on-one and beating Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen.
The Oilers surged back in front 1:27 into the second period as a big bounce came out to Yamamoto, who scored his second goal in as many games after just one goal in his previous 36 regular-season outings.
Edmonton made it 3-1 four minutes into the third frame when McDavid dropped a puck back to Draisaitl for the German's ninth of the season.
The hosts padded their lead 1:18 later as a Nashville giveaway led to Shore's goal.
Nashville got one back with four minutes left on Johansen's power-play goal, but Puljujarvi's empty-netter put the win away for Edmonton.
Both teams return to action Friday, with the Predators playing the third of a six-game road trip in Vancouver against the Canucks. The Oilers are at home to the New York Rangers.
Notes: Predators forward Filip Forsberg remained out after leaving Tuesday’s game against the Calgary Flames with an upper body injury. Goalie David Rittich (COVID-19 protocol) is on IR… Oilers goalie Mike Smith is still sidelined, but has been practicing with the team this week and could be back as early as Friday… Edmonton matched a franchise record by scoring a power play in its first nine games, something accomplished twice before in 1979-80 and in 1986-87.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 3, 2021.