Three takeaways from Edmonton Oilers' 4-0 victory over New Jersey DevilsSporting News — (Sammi Silber)
The Pacific Division race is growing tighter with the Calgary Flames tied for first and two points presenting the difference between first place and a wild card spot. The Edmonton Oilers don't have a lot of breathing room left if they want to maintain their strong start to the season and stay in playoff position, but they showed that they're not taking the foot off the gas with a solid showing in a 4-0 win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday.
Leon Draisaitl scored yet again, his 14th of the season (second in the league behind David Pastrnak's 15) and fifth goal in his last six games, which extended his home point streak to nine games. Mikko Koskinen also notched his first shutout of the season, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Joel Persson each picked up two assists and James Neal also got back on the scoresheet with his 12th of the season and first goal in three games.
Edmonton now has 24 points on the season and an 11-5-2 record, helping them maintain their division lead — for now.
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Here are three takeaways from the victory.
Alex Chiasson finds twine
After an impressive 22-goal campaign in 2018-19 that saw Chiasson spend most of his time on the first line, the forward hasn't found the same success to start 2019-20. Heading into Friday's game, he was goalless with just three assists through the first 14 games of the season. However, he showed offensive prowess given the opportunity on Friday.
The 29-year-old right wing played on the top-6 and was given time on the first power-play unit. That paid off as he assisted James Neal's 12th goal of the season and also scored on the man advantage for his first goal since April 6.
Overall, he was playing with more aggression and speed in his game while getting to the scoring areas, using his 6-4, 208-pound frame to his advantage and screening the goaltender. His multi-point performance moves him to five points through 15 games and showcased what he can do when given more ice time, as he's skated no more than 14:30 a night in eight of his last 10 games.
Gaetan Haas ignites bottom-6
Sent to Bakersfield after five games at the NHL level, Haas was called up a couple of weeks ago and appears to be finding his stride over this recent stretch here with a goal in two of his last three games. His first-ever NHL tally came on Nov. 4.
The 27-year-old appears to be more confident of late, and is getting to those high-danger areas and battling in front of the net. That's exactly how he ended up with his second NHL goal on Friday: beating out P.K. Subban in a net battle to deflect in a Matt Benning point shot.
With him finding his stride and gaining some momentum, he should be able to help ignite more offense from the bottom-6, something the team desperately needs with the division getting even more intense moving forward. In addition, he and the fourth line, consisting of him, Markus Granlund and Patrick Russell, appears to be finding a lot more chemistry and cycling the puck well, while getting more gritty and involved on the forecheck.
Mikko Koskinen shuts the door
Koskinen hasn't been bad of late, having allowed at most three goals over his last five games and 11 total over that span. His strong play in net continued as he made 29 saves en route to a shutout victory, the fifth of his career.
The Finnish netminder now has 2.18 GAA and .927 save percentage. His GAA now puts him in fifth (now ahead of teammate Mike Smith) among goaltenders with at least eight games played, and his .927 save percentage ranks eighth in that same regard (and is one point higher than his Oilers counterpart as well).
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Given Smith's 2.22 GAA and .926 save percentage are nearly as good, Edmonton appears to have found stability in net and one of the league's strongest tandems for the time being. If Koskinen can continue to dominate between the pipes, he could sway the Oilers to make him the starting goaltender.