Oilers expect more from Leafs

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:17 PM ET

The Edmonton Oilers are aware that looks can be deceiving.

At first glance, it appeared as though the young Oilers thoroughly trashed the Toronto Maple Leafs in their first meeting of the season less than two weeks ago.

But looking beyond the 5-0 scoreline, the Oilers know the game could have easily gone the other way and are not about to take the Maple Leafs lightly Tuesday (7 p.m.) at Rexall Place.

“If you look at the way that game went, Khabby (Nikolai Khabibulin) played great for us early and really gave us a chance to continue to get pucks at their goaltender,” said Oilers centre Sam Gagner. “I don’t think you can look back at that game and say it was a 5-0 game and that we really took it to them all the way through.

“We know that when they’re on their game, they’re a good team and they’ve been playing well of late and that’s something we have to focus on.”

Khabibulin made 33 saves in the first contest against the Maple Leafs to record his second shutout of the season. The veteran goaltender was especially sharp in the first period when the Maple Leafs outshot the Oilers 12-4. Yet the Oilers were the ones that went into the intermission with the lead as Jordan Eberle scored to record the first of his three points on the evening.

“They got their captain back now (Dion Phaneuf) so they’re going to have a little bit more jump this time around,” said Eberle. “When know that even though we beat them 5-0, the game was a lot closer than that. We were holding them off and then were able to capitalize on our chances, which was huge.

“We’re going to have to pick up our game against them (Tuesday), especially with the way we played (Sunday) night.”

The Oilers head into the contest off a 2-1 defeat to the Vancouver Canucks where they were out-shot 32-12.

Unlike Sunday’s contest, the Oilers were able to generate more offensively in their first game against the Maple Leafs as the game wore on.

Taylor Hall scored his first of two in the second period, while Gagner added another to take control of the contest.

“It was fun playing them there, their fans are very passionate about hockey,” Eberle said. “It’s a great atmosphere to play in front of and it’s always fun to beat teams like that too.

“I’m sure they’re thinking the same way coming into here.”

Traditionally, the Oilers have fared well against the Maple Leafs at Rexall Place. Last year, they pulled out a 3-1 victory in their only meeting in Edmonton.

“It’s always fun playing the Maple Leafs,” said Hall. “I’m sure there’ll be a lot of Toronto fans in the crowd (Tuesday).

“I wasn’t a huge Leafs growing up, but it’s definitely cool to play them, it’ll be nice to have them in our building. With any Canadian team, it’s always a great game, there is always a great atmosphere and it’s always a lot of fun.”

The Maple Leafs are going into the game trying to keep their heads above water, not wanting to finish at the bottom of the standings and therefore forfeiting another top-five pick to the Boston Bruins.

They’re currently 13th in the Eastern Conference standings.

“They’re a good team,” said Tom Gilbert. “The last time we played them, the score obviously didn’t reflect what the game was like.

“They work hard. They were in our zone a lot and they have forwards that are good on the cycle. We didn’t come out with the jump we wanted to in the last game and we want to get back to that and try to take over the game right from the start.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/DerekVanDiest


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