EDMONTON — After five straight wins on the road, the challenge for the Edmonton Oilers now is to turn up the heat at Rexall Place during the bone-chilling cold snap that’s gripped Alberta.
With the mercury plummeting to record lows around the province in the past week, the Oilers open a four-game homestand against the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday after a torrid road trip that saw them win in Detroit, Dallas, Florida, Tampa Bay and St. Louis to jump back into playoff contention in the Western Conference.
Can the Oilers stay hot?
“I think so,” said coach Pat Quinn on Monday.
“We’re still trying to find an identity for our group in the sense of what kind of a team we can be.
“We had a rocky stretch there and we weren’t a very good team. We were good for minutes, but then we’d make the big error, it seemed like. We beat ourselves a lot. The last week-and-a-half, we haven’t been beating ourselves.”
When the Oilers jetted to Detroit without Ales Hemsky, out for the season with shoulder surgery, and starting goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, on the shelf with a bad back, they were 2-8-2 on the road and struggling through a 4-11-3 stretch.
Framed by that, an 0-5 trip seemed more likely than 5-0, but the Oilers beat the Red Wings 4-1, then strung together 3-2 wins in Dallas, Florida and Tampa Bay before adding an exclamation mark in St. Louis, coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win 5-3.
They take on the Kings sitting in 11th place with 34 points from a 15-13-4 record.
“I think that it says a lot about our leadership group,” captain Ethan Moreau said.
“I remember being down 3-0 and guys like Shawn Horcoff and Steve Staios were really vocal, saying, ‘We need to get points out of this game.’”