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Oilers encouraged by performance on road trip despite losing 2 of 3 games

The Edmonton Oilers may have lost two of the three games they’ve played coming out of the National Hockey League all-star break, but their head coach says it’s not time to panic and make changes as a result.

Kris Knoblauch told reporters on Monday following practice at Rogers Place he thought his squad has “played fairly well after the break,” even better than how they played leading up to it during the tail-end of their 16-game winning streak.

“I see numerous analytics from multiple sources on how well we played and if we should have won or not,” Knoblauch said. “Those can be skewed a little bit, but I also think that they’re very important evaluating how our team is playing.

He added that the team, which is preparing to host the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night (7 p.m., Rogers Place), doesn’t “want to do anything drastic” at this point.

“I think there are things that we can get better at, and it wasn’t just luck that we lost those games, but overall, I think those (performances on the road)were above average,” Knoblauch said.

“I thought we played well, certainly better than we had going into the break.”

Oilers star captain Connor McDavid echoed his coach’s sentiment on the team’s recent performance, telling media he thought they “played three fairly decent games,” including Tuesday’s 5-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, Friday’s 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks and Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

McDavid conceded that the shutout loss to the host Kings was “tough” — it was the Oilers’ second game on back-to-back nights — he thought their overall play was “a positive.” Still, he said, the team needs to better capitalize on their offensive opportunities, especially at even strength.

“Offensively, it’s been tough since the break,” McDavid said. “Making a couple more plays, bearing down on our chances, those things will help.”

Forward Evander Kane, too, was mostly bullish on how the Oilers played coming out of the all-star break but said they could stand to somehow improve their scoring ways at even strength.

“I think we played a good game in Vegas; we could have maybe had a better result there,” Kane, who scored a hat-trick in Friday’s win over the Ducks, told reporters. “Obviously, we took care of business in Anaheim, and L.A., that’s a tough team to chase when you get down by a couple of goals. Obviously, we wanted a better result.

“We’ve got to find a way to score five-on-five. I think we can do those things a little bit better.” 

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