SUN Hockey Pool

Four on the floor

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

The longest winning streak in pro sports history is believed to have been Jahangir Khan's 555 consecutive wins in squash. So let's not get carried away here.

But the Edmonton Oilers have won four in a row to start this season and when it includes the first two back-to-back games on consecutive nights against the Calgary Flames since 1992 and coming from behind 2-0 to do it, well, it's better than a poke in the eye with a hockey stick.

"It's great to win a game like that and for everybody to go home with a good feeling about our hockey club," is the way coach Craig MacTavish put it.

While the New York Rangers took two in Prague and started the season at 5-0 and while both Buffalo and Montreal have a zero under the 'L' column because their losses came after regulation time and provided both a point, the Oilers and the Minnesota Wild now remain the only undefeated teams in the NHL.

HEADY STUFF

This is heady stuff for the Oilers. You have to go back to Gretzky and the glory gang in the fall of 1985 when they won their first five and back to the fall of 1983 when they won their first seven, to find a season when this team last got out of the gate this great.

The Wild are making a habit of this. This is the third straight season Minnesota has managed to win their first four games. They were 5-0 last year and 6-0 the year before. The Wild have won the grand total of three playoff games in the last three years.

It's interesting that Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire spent his entire career and won eight Stanley Cups with Montreal Canadiens and never once started better than 4-0.

It's not likely that many of Edmonton's ultra savvy hockey fans are going to get carried away with this start despite being giddy about this group's chances of savouring success this year and for several seasons to come.

It wasn't until Steve MacIntyre smacked Dustin Boyd into the boards and turned Brandon Prust into a punching bag, that the 16,839 people in the pews had witnessed anything but brutal hockey from these guys who got a gift win for openers courtesy Peter Budaj and the Colorado Avalanche.

In the first four periods at home the Oilers were outshot 50-22. You could make a case they should be 1-3 to start this season. It's all how you view it.

"With the exception of the first period tonight, I'm real excited by what we've watched," said MacTavish.

"We played well in our last two periods in Anaheim. I thought our game in Calgary was the most complete we've played. And it's almost better that we played so poorly in the first period to have that resiliency, for the team collectively to have the will to come back and turn the game around," he said after being outshot 17-3 in the first period Saturday night.

"Our will was real strong and that's a real encouraging sign," he added. "We've won four one-goal games, so we're not getting ahead of ourselves. But we're very purposeful with this team right now and I like that."

With 10 of their next 11 on the road, there are no expectations of equalling the NHL record for most consecutive wins from the start of a season shared by the Buffalo Sabres ('06) and Toronto Maple Leafs ('93) at 10 in a row.

INSANE STRETCH

What is huge is having a 4-0 record to take into this insane stretch of away games in Chicago, Colorado, Vancouver, Nashville, Carolina, Philadelphia, Columbus, Pittsburgh, New Jersey and New York with a one-game road trip to Edmonton next Monday to play the touring Boston Bruins who have yet to play a home game.

What's also huge is having won both those games against Calgary right off the go. Darryl Sutter has emphasized to his team since the day he arrived in Calgary that Job 1 is finishing ahead of Edmonton and that everything flows off of that - having a positive record in the conference and making the playoffs.

This year, after playing the first two consecutive night back-to-back games with the Flames since 1992, the number of meetings drops from eight to six and the provincial rivals don't see each other again until New Year's Eve in Calgary.

Over the last several years the Oilers have also lost more games than they've won in their own division. This year they're 3-0. Minnesota hasn't played a divisional game yet. Calgary's first five were all divisional duels and they're 1-3-1. Colorado is 0-2. Vancouver is 2-0.

No matter how many poor periods they've played, it's all good.


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