A season-long road trip has proved frustrating for the Edmonton Oilers, but they will look to take advantage of the New Jersey Devils, who are still adjusting to life without Martin Brodeur, in Newark on Sunday.
The Oilers (6-6-1) have suffered consecutive 5-4 defeats to drop to 2-3 on their seven-game journey that began Oct. 30.
In Pittsburgh on Thursday, Edmonton fell behind 5-0 in the first 33 minutes and saw its late rally fell short. The Oilers, who have scored 16 goals in their past four games, found the net three times in the first nine minutes of the final period but couldn’t come up with the tying score.
“It’s tough losing two games by a goal. You keep thinking back to plays that could have made a difference. We just have to go back and keep playing the way we want to play,” Edmonton defenseman Tom Gilbert said. “We have to try to put a full 60 minutes the next game.”
Mathieu Garon, who lost his fourth consecutive start after winning his first three, was pulled in the second period after giving up a fifth goal. Edmonton’s No. 3 goalie, rookie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, stopped all 14 shots he faced.
In his past four starts, Garon (3-4-0) has surrendered 18 goals. His goals-against average has climbed from 2.00 after his first three games to 3.68 following Thursday’s loss, his first start in the past four games.
Dwayne Roloson started the three previous games, and went 2-1 but gave up five goals in a 5-4 loss Wednesday at Columbus.
Roloson is winless in six starts against New Jersey with a 2.97 GAA, and Garon has a 0-1-1 mark with one tie versus the Devils, surrendering five goals in those three starts.
Ales Hemsky has scored his first four goals of the season in the past three games to tie for the team lead, and also leads the Oilers with 13 points. He hasn’t scored in four career games against New Jersey.
In Saturday’s 3-1 loss in Detroit, the Devils (7-4-2) fell for the second time in three games since losing Brodeur to a torn left bicep on Nov. 1. The 36-year-old future Hall of Famer was 6-2-2 this season and was seven victories shy of Patrick Roy’s NHL record of 551.
Kevin Weekes has started all three games this week in Brodeur’s place. Weekes saw his first action of this season in a tough-luck 2-0 defeat to Buffalo on Monday, survived a shootout Wednesday to beat Tampa Bay but couldn’t beat the Red Wings on Saturday.
Devils winger Zach Parise tied the game in the second period with his team-leading 10th goal, but the Red Wings scored two unanswered on Weekes. Detroit’s Marian Hossa had a pair of goals—one on a shot in the first period that went between Weekes’ pads and the near post.
“I would have liked to have that first one back,” said Weekes, who made a season-high 28 saves. “That’s why players like (Hossa) are superstars. They put the puck in the net.”
Weekes has a 1-2 mark against Edmonton and has allowed 11 goals in those starts.
Parise’s goal was his first since a six-game goal streak was snapped on Nov. 1 against Atlanta. He hasn’t scored in two career games versus the Oilers.
Edmonton and New Jersey have met four times since the 2001-02 season with the Oilers winning three of those contests and allowing four goals in those victories.