It is hard to imagine the longest winning streak in Edmonton Oilers history did not come during the Wayne Gretzky era, when the team won four Stanley Cups in a five-year span in the mid-1980s.
In fact, those Oilers teams never won more than eight regular-season games in a row.
It is the current Oilers who have won a franchise-record 11 straight heading into Thursday’s game with the visiting Seattle Kraken, eclipsing the record of nine set in 2000-01 and matched last season.
“I think it’s just a maturity level that we’re reaching that obviously needs to continue to develop and get better,” said center Leon Draisaitl, who scored a goal as the Oilers overcame a two-goal deficit to defeat visiting Toronto 4-2 Tuesday.
“If you do it a couple of times and you win a couple of games late, you build trust in that and you build that level of comfort in knowing there’s no rush to open it up to try and score in the first minute of the third period to tie it up.”
That’s been a theme for the Oilers, who have trailed in seven of the 11 games during the run.
“It’s not easy coming from behind, especially against a good team like the Maple Leafs,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said. “But I’ve said this many times, we don’t get frustrated.
“We stick with the game plan, we don’t have to alter anything drastically, we don’t have to cheat on offense, we just have to work hard and make the little plays.”
The Oilers are 21-6-0 under Knoblauch after Jay Woodcroft was fired following a 3-9-1 start to the season. After an early adjustment period, they’re 19-3-0 in their past 22 games to go from last in the league to the Western Conference’s top wild-card spot.
“It feels great, winning always feels great, but we’ve worked extremely hard to put ourselves back into it,” Draisaitl said. “By no means are we anywhere where we can let off the gas. That’s something that we need to be aware of. … There’s lots of hockey left to be played.”
The Kraken set franchise records with nine consecutive victories and a 13-game points streak (11-0-2) that were snapped earlier this week.
Seattle lost 3-0 Monday at Pittsburgh and 5-2 Tuesday to the host New York Rangers.
The Kraken played both those games without No. 1 center Matty Beniers (upper body), left wing Andre Burakovsky (lower body) and defenseman Vince Dunn (undisclosed), who is tied for the team lead in points at 35 with Oliver Bjorkstrand.
In addition, coach Dave Hakstol said some Seattle players are sick.
“We’ve still got a lot of guys that are fighting through things and that doesn’t just clear up in a day, unfortunately,” Hakstol said. “Some of the effects on the guys who had to play big minutes (Monday), that wears on you a little bit (Tuesday). But we had jump.”
Thursday’s stop in Edmonton will cap a season-long, six-game trip for the Kraken, who are two points behind the Oilers and Nashville Predators for a wild-card spot.
“This ground that we’ve made up the last month, it slips away pretty quickly if you start losing games,” forward Jordan Eberle said.
“The next game obviously is a must win for us. We have to find a way to get healthy first of all, but find some jump, some energy and take it into Edmonton.”
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